Loeb had earned the right to choose his position first after setting the fastest time on the Qualifying Stage near Salou this morning.
Following a rapturous reception from the packed crowds at the start selection ceremony in front of Barcelona’s cathedral earlier this evening, the Citroen DS3 WRC driver said: “For the weather we are still not sure but we can be sure there will be some cleaning. I prefer to be 10 but 14 is fine.”
Evgeny Novikov, who was second fastest in his Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, selected 13th place with Loeb’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen next up in 12th. Jari-Matti Latvala will start in 11th place with factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg next up in 10th spot.
Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson said: “The positions are no different to what we thought from last year. The further down you are the quicker it is and we don’t think the dust is going to be an issue. There is a chance of rain from midday but it’s a 20 per cent chance. It has been damp in the morning when the drivers have been doing the recce.”
Spanish hero Dani Sordo goes eighth on the road in his Prodrive-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC. MINI WRC Team Portugal’s Chris Atkinson was the penultimate driver to choose his position but rather than opting to go second on the road he selected first place with Daniel Oliveira running place behind him for the Brazil World Rally Team.
The full starting selection for day one is as follows:
1 Chris Atkinson (MINI)
2 Daniel Oliveira (Ford)
3 Jarkko Nikara (MINI)
4 Hans Weijs (Citroen)
5 Martin Prokop (Ford)
6 Mads Ostberg (Ford)
7 Ott Tanak (Ford)
8 Dani Sordo (MINI)
9 Thierry Neuville (Citroen)
10 Petter Solberg (Ford)
11 Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford)
12 Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen)
13 Evgeny Novikov (Ford)
14 Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
For safety reasons the event clerk of the course has selected positions 15, 16 and 17 for Abdulaziz Alkuwari, John Powell and Paulo Nobre respectively. This is due, in part, to the trio’s relative lack of experience.
Friday’s route consists of six stages starting with the new all-gravel Gandesa test at 07:45hrs local time. Three stages run entirely on gravel and three on a combination of both surfaces.