Loeb is 61 points clear of Hirvonen with three rounds left to run following a dominant season in the Citroen DS3 WRC he shares with co-driver Daniel Elena. Providing Loeb finishes ahead of Finn Hirvonen on the Strasbourg-based event from 4-7 October, then Frenchman Loeb will put the title beyond his rival’s reach.
But even if Hirvonen finishes ahead of the eight-time title winner then Loeb can still be champion in France by finishing one place behind him, providing Hirvonen doesn’t win the rally or the event-closing Power Stage.
Another possible outcome is that if Hirvonen fails to finish in the top eight then Loeb will clinch the title regardless of his result.
Whatever the outcome in France, only Loeb or Hirvonen can take the title after Ford driver Petter Solberg was ruled out of contention following Wales Rally GB earlier this month.
Speaking at the finish of Rally GB, Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton said: “At the start of the season, we stated that our goal was to retain the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles. Thanks to the result we achieved in the UK, only Seb or Mikko can now win the drivers’ world championship. So, we have achieved our first goal, and we have also moved a little bit closer to the second one.”