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Loeb in major points quest

By Sammy Hamill

Published 16/08/2007

Sebastien Loeb's battle to retain his World rally title moves up a gear tomorrow.

Rally Germany, centred on the Mosel wine-growing region, is the first of four tarmac rallies in the second half of the season, including Rally Ireland in November, and they will be crucial if Loeb is to become champion for a fourth time.

Already 13 points behind Ford's Marcus Gronholm in the championship table after finishing third on the previous round in the Finnish forests, Citroen star Loeb knows he must begin to close the gap as the series moves onto his preferred surface.

But even though he has won in Germany for the past five years he does not believe he can command the same dominance that Gronholm has on Rally Finland which he has won seven times.

"People see us as the favourites, but it won't be easy," says the World champion. "I don't think you can say that Germany is to me what Finland is to Marcus."

Loeb, who indicated how vital Rally Ireland might be by interrupting his summer break to tackle - and win - the Donegal International in June, also fears that Ford may have taken a significant step forward with their new 07-spec Focus.

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