25 Feb 08
After crashing out of the most recent WRC round in Sweden, defending drivers’ champion Sebastien Loeb says he can’t afford to drop any further behind the man who now leads the 2008 battle, Mikko Hirvonen.
Loeb took the early lead of this year’s contest when he won the first round, Rallye Monte Carlo, taking a maximum ten points and opening up a two point lead over Hirvonen who was second.
But Loeb scored an uncharacteristic duck on the most recent rally in Sweden when he rolled his Citroen on the first day. Another second place for Hirvonen was enough to move the Finn into the lead of the drivers’ championship, six points clear of the Frenchman.
In the run up to the first gravel rally of the year, Loeb said the accident had made it more important for him to do well in Mexico.
“When you make a mistake and drop points, you’re bound to feel a certain amount of pressure at the start of the following event,” said Loeb. “That will probably be the case for me in Mexico, which isn’t a simple event. After our win last year we know that the C4 WRC is competitive in Mexico but I will still tackle it cautiously because we can’t afford to let the gap with our rivals get bigger.”
Loeb also said that the high altitude and new tyres in Mexico would require him to change his driving style. “The hard packed surface generally gives good grip, but it remains to be seen how it goes with our new Pirelli tyres.” said Loeb. “There is also a questions mark concerning whether the dropping of mousse run-flat systems will lead to more punctures. It’s a factor I will need to take into account in the way I drive and I will also need to adapt my style to the low engine power in high altitudes.”