28 Jul 08
Sebastien Loeb says he won’t jeopardise his chances of a fifth WRC drivers’ title by taking risks on the upcoming Rally Finland - even though it’s a rally he desperately want to win.
Since his first WRC car programme with Citroen in 2002, Loeb has won a record 41 rallies including - at one time or another - most of rounds of this year’s series. The only exceptions are the rallies in Jordan, GB, and the one in the spiritual home the sport - Finland. But despite acknowledging that a win in Finland is one of his personal ambitions, the Frenchman says he will put that desire aside to protect his bigger goal of a record breaking fifth drivers’ title.
"We have never won this event and that is one of the targets I set myself for 2008," explained Sebastien. "But however dearly I would love to win it, and despite the ground that would enable us to make up in the Drivers' standings, I have no intention of taking any more risks than usual just to add a fresh line to my personal record.”
After eight rounds of the 2008 championship Loeb trails leader Mikko Hirvonen by a handful of points. But after an extremely tight battle with his rival Marcus Gronholm in the second half of the 2007 season, this year Loeb is aiming to get points in the bag as early as possible.
"This time last year, we were nine points down. This year, the gap is just three points,” said Loeb. "We therefore can't afford to make any mistakes, yet it is so easy to put a foot wrong in these forests where you're constantly driving on a knife edge, with all the concealed bends and the trees so very close. This event will also allow us to see how the Pirelli Soft tyre performs. We won't be allowed to re-cut its pattern if there's mud about, so that could cause a few surprises.”
Dani Sordo will resume his World Championship season with his morale boosted by a recent success on the Kouvola-based O.K. Auto-Ralli - a round of the Finnish National Championship. "It was first my win in a WRC car, and on gravel, too, so that was particularly pleasing," said Dani. "I am aware that the competition wasn't all that strong, though, and that we will face stiffer opposition on the Rally Finland. I have felt comfortable over these fast stages and long jumps on all my previous visits. I enjoy them, and the work we did in July should enable us be even more competitive against the local specialists. I am pleased with the settings we have found for the different types of surface we could well face, and I think we should be competitive with the C4 WRC. Our aim is to finish as high up the order as possible with a view to scoring points for Citroen.”
Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and the Estonian Urmo Aava will complete the Citroen C4 WRC line-up in Finland. Both with be competing in privately entered C4s run by PH Sport with support from Citroen Sport Technologies.