2 March 2012
Q&A: Sebastien Loeb, Citroen
Sebastien Loeb: I have always felt comfortable on the stages here in Mexico, despite often having to cope with being first out on the road. Fortunately, this aspect won't come into play this year thanks to the qualifying stage and I will be able fight fairly with the other drivers from day one...
Citroen ace Sebastien Loeb looks ahead to next week's Rally Mexico, where he has been unbeaten since 2006.
Seb, first at Monte Carlo, sixth in Sweden: how do you assess your start to the season?
Starting with a win in Monte-Carlo was obviously a good result. Sixth in Sweden, however, left me with a sense of what could have been. I know I can do better on that surface, but obviously I just can't seem to manage it! At the end of the day, I'm leading the World Championship, ahead of Mikko [Hirvonen – my team-mate], and Citroen is leading the Manufacturer's standings, so it's positive. I would say that the start of the 2012 season has been fairly typical. If the rest goes the same way as the last eight years, I'd take that!
You are unbeaten in Mexico since 2006. Do you have a secret formula? How does the altitude affect the performance of the cars and your driving style?
There is no secret formula; it just comes down to a lot of hard work with the entire team. I have always felt comfortable on the stages here in Mexico, despite often having to cope with being first out on the road. Fortunately, this aspect won't come into play this year thanks to the qualifying stage and I will be able fight fairly with the other drivers from day one. The altitude does indeed play a vital role, because the lack of oxygen means that the engines have less power. Fundamentally, it doesn't change the way I drive. It's perhaps a little easier to exit corners because you don't hit the accelerator pedal as hard. And equally, you have to be careful not to head into a corner too quickly.
There are two 42km-long stages on Saturday and a 54km-long stage in Sunday. Will tyre management be especially difficult on these stages?
I don't think so, because the Michelin Latitude Cross tyres are sufficiently hard-wearing on the road surface here, which is actually not that abrasive. Sunday's stages will perhaps be a bit more difficult to manage in terms of strategy, because the four stages are being run without any service period. Depending on the positions and time differences, we'll have to attempt to solve an equation with several imponderables. Should we take one or two spare tyres, focus on fighting for position in the overall standings or in the Power Stage? It will be interesting right up to the very end!
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