Sebastien Loeb has lambasted the current rules regarding running order in the World Rally Championship after brandishing his own decision to slow down at the end of the final stage as not his 'vision of rallying'.
Loeb had been on course to lead heading into the final day of competition on Rally New Zealand, but having witnessed the disadvantage imposed on erstwhile leader Mikko Hirvonen during day, Citroen decided to employ tactics to keep Loeb off the front.
A similar decision was employed by Ford, who dropped Hirvonen back in order to let his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala vault from third to first and take on the role of sweeping the roads clear for the title protagonists tomorrow.
Now third on the road and only 13.3secs behind Latvala, Loeb was nonetheless critical of the change in the rules that dictate the running order is made up of the results from the earlier leg. Previously, the top 15 were reversed in order to get around the spectre of cars stopping intentionally just before the end of the stage.
"We managed to move ahead after SS10. However, along with the team, we worked out that 4.2s wasn't a big enough lead to take into the final day if we were first on the road.
“We regretfully let our rivals pass us again, although that's not really my vision of rallying which should be about driving faster than the others and not having to lift: There are nonetheless rules we have to exploit. We'll see tomorrow whether we made the right choice."
Loeb's views were mirrored by Citroen team boss Olivier Quesnel, who claims his requests for the rule to be changed has fallen on deaf ears.
“In August I asked officially to change the rule, and I was alone to ask it, so I understand it will stay like that. But I will say now, officially, that I hope it will stop because I don't think it's good. Even if we use it now - it's stupid.”
Away from the controversy, Loeb was otherwise pleased with his performance after bridging the 28secs gap to Hirvonen over the six stages, even if the final results will show him going into the final day actually behind his rival.
"With an overnight deficit of 28s to make up, we had no other choice than to push as hard as we could. Running second on the road is effectively better than being first through the stages. Even so, we still had to push extremely hard and not make any mistakes. Thankfully, our car performed faultlessly and we managed to make up much of the gap.”