Having climbed to third in the drivers' championship standings with second place in Germany, Dani Sordo will hope to continue his recent solid form as the World Rally Championship heads to New Zealand for round eleven of the year.
The Spaniard took fourth place in Finland before that so heads to the Southern Hemisphere as one of the form drivers and he said it was his performance on the last gravel event held that has put him in bullish mood ahead of this weekend's event.
However, while he hopes to try and get onto the podium for the second rally in a row, Sordo admitted he would be taking it cautiously over the three days of competition.
"It's a long way to get there, but I love the New Zealand stages and also the country itself," he said. "You can really just focus on your driving without fear of damaging the mechanicals, and that's very nice!
“This is only my third visit, of course. The pace is so quick that it's essential to have a good feel for the terrain and I still perhaps lack sufficient experience. That said, our performance in Finland suggests that a good result is possible. Indeed, there are a few similarities between the two events, so that will be a big confidence booster in New Zealand.
“I'm expecting it to be very close again, and I intend to approach the three days very cautiously, although I would very much like to target another podium finish."
The event, one of the quickers events on the calendar, will throw up its own unique challenges for the teams and drivers, with Citroen technical manager Xavier Mestelan-Pinon admitting there was three things the teams would have to focus on to get the best possible results.
"The stages are neither rough nor bumpy; the difficult lies elsewhere," he sai. "We have had to take three chief factors into account when establishing the basic set-up of our C4 WRCs for New Zealand: the fact that we will be using hard compound tyres in probably cold and even perhaps damp conditions, the fact that it is no longer possible to 're-cut' tread patterns for stages covered in a top-coating of loose gravel and, last but not least, there is the specific profile of the stages. The cambered roads feature a relatively steep slope towards the inside of the corners.
“When you get sequences of right-left corners following on from each other, the cars have to cross the sort of ridge you get as you pass from one turn to the next, which is a profile I suppose you could liken to the form of a propeller. The combination of all these factors promises to make this year's visit a particularly challenging event."