Wilson is desperate for either of his factory drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg, to defeat the French ace on his favoured surface before he cuts back on his WRC appearances.
Ford driver Marcus Gronholm beat Loeb on the all-asphalt Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2006 but because the traditional season-opener is not classed as a pure Tarmac event, the last time Loeb didn’t win a WRC round on asphalt was in Spain in 2004 when Markko Martin triumphed for Ford.
“We’ve got two rallies left to beat Sebastien on Tarmac and that’s the target,” said Wilson. “Whether we do it here on his home patch I don’t know but we need to do it. We were the last people to do it in 2004 [so we need to find a way to do it before he goes into semi-retirement.”
Of Ford’s prospects for success in France this week, Wilson was upbeat despite initial concerns about the weather after rain hit his team’s pre-event test.
“I thought originally the test conditions were not anything like the [dry] forecast for the rally,” said Wilson. “But as the week has gone [the forecast has changed] and in some of the conditions we’ve tested it could be quite beneficial. If you look at Jari’s pace here, even in 2010 in the Focus, he was really strong when it was tricky conditions. If you look at the speed of the car in Germany and consider he’s in a lot better place in himself, more relaxed, after his win in GB then there’s no reason why [he can’t challenge Loeb for victory].”