06 Jun 08
Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb racked up his 41st WRC victory on the most recent round in Greece, to edge ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and back into the lead of the 2008 drivers' championship.
And with five victories from the seven rounds completed, the 34-year-old Frenchman is back on course for a record breaking fifth successive world title this year.
After the rally Loeb travelled to a test in Spain with his Citroen team, but when this finished on Thursday he spoke to wrc.com, to reflect on his most recent success and talk about his season so far.
Where are you now?
I'm at an airport in Spain, about to fly home.
Can you describe your own Acropolis Rally in one word?
That's difficult but I'll go for 'good' because we won.
Many drivers said the Acropolis was one of the hardest rallies they had ever done, but you seemed to avoid big problems. What was your secret?
It's not really a question of secrets, it was a just about preserving the mechanics, the tyres and everything else. It was very difficult and really hard for the tyres, so the question was where to say okay, we can push to the maximum, and where to say on this part of the stage I have to save the car. That was what made it different to other rallies. Usually you just have to push and do the best time. But on the Acropolis you had to think a bit more. I decided sometimes not to take the risk and break something. I tried to save a bit of everything to give us more chance of finishing.
Admittedly Jari-Matti Latvala had a good road position on day one, but what did you think when you saw his time (which was five seconds faster than anybody) on the first stage?
I was quite happy because there was much less of a difference than last year, when the Ford was much faster on the same stage. I knew we had to clean the road too. So I was not too surprised by his time because the road position this year was such an important help to him.
Has Jari-Matti's competitiveness surprised you this year?
Yes, especially at the start of the season, when we saw that he was really competitive and really fast. For sure he's quick but at the moment he has make a few mistakes and that's why the championship looks the way it does. But I think he's the fastest of all my rivals this year.
And what about the challenge of Ford's team leader Mikko Hirvonen - Have you been surprised by his performance?
I can't tell you I'm surprised. Before the season I expected Mikko to be my rival for the Championship but then we saw that Latvala also is very competitive. But Mikko is very consistent; he has finished all the rallies this year, and that's important in any season. Now the points difference between us is slim, which just shows that sometimes it's better to be sure to finish. I think Mikko, Jari-Matti and me will have some good battles until the end of this year. Sometimes it's going to be difficult to beat them.