West Cumbrian M-Sport celebrates squad victory in World Rally Championship

Craig Breen (IRL) and Paul Nagle (IRL) of team M-SPORT FORD WORLD RALLY TEAM are seen performing during the World Rally Championship Monte-Carlo in Monte-Carlo, Monaco on 23,January

Photographer Credit:
Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool
Craig Breen (IRL) and Paul Nagle (IRL) racing for team M-Sport in a hybrid Ford Puma Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

A squad competing for west Cumbrian motorsports firm M-Sport have won the opening round of the World Rally Championship in Monte-Carlo. 

The team's winning driver was Sébastien Loeb - the most successful rally driver in history, alongside co-driver Isabelle Galmiche, a 50-year-old schoolteacher who was making her first top-tier start. She became the first female winner of a WRC fixture since 1997.

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and Isabelle Galmiche (FRA) racing for M-SPORT Ford World Rally Team in Monte-Carlo Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Craig Breen finished almost 90sec further back in third in another Puma, giving the Dovenby based M-Sport Ford squad an early lead in the manufacturers' championship.

M-Sport, under the leadership of Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE, designed the hybrid Ford Pumas which helped the squad snatch victory from under the nose of Sébastien Ogier on Sunday.

Loeb, starting his first WRC event for more than a year, was competing for M-Sport Ford squad in a one-off appearance. He joins Ogier at the top of the Monte-Carlo roll of honour with eight wins.

Sébastien Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche celebrate on the podium in first place. Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

"I didn't expect so much when I came here," Loeb admitted. "It was a great fight, Ogier was really fast and I struggled a bit yesterday and even this morning."The duel between the most successful drivers in the sport's history proved a fitting start to the new hybrid-powered era in the championship's 50th season.The championship switches to Scandinavia next month for the only pure winter round of the season. Rally Sweden takes place in Umeå on February 24-27.