Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Loeb must hit peak before mountains

Sebastien Loeb is a five time world champion

Sebastien Loeb should be happy — but he isn’t.

The five-times champion travels to the Cyprus Rally this weekend looking for his third win of the season and a landmark 50th World championship victory of his astonishing career.

But he is unhappy with the format where tomorrow's first leg stages will be on tarmac before switching to gravel for days two and three.

Loeb expects to have the edge on day one, but knows this will put him at a disadvantage on the remaining days when he would run first on the mountain roads.

"The fact that we are starting the weekend on asphalt won't encourage us to attack," he explained. "What will be the point in being first overall on Friday evening? That will mean facing road sweeping duty on the next day's loose stages.”

Loeb said he had considered driving tactically on the first leg but felt it would become “a game of cat and mouse” with his Ford rivals Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

"This is not a strategy we will be able to adopt because we will be starting the weekend first on the road and our opponents will be able to judge their speed by my times,” he said. “My objective will be to build up as big a lead as possible on the opening day and limit the damage they can do to me after I have cleaned the roads."

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