Sebastien Loeb has set his sights on extending his lead over Ford's Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for the 2008 drivers' championship on the Rally Catalunya-Costa Daurada next week.

Loeb has won the last three events in a row in his Citroen C4 WRC car and now enjoys an eight point cushion heading into what it the twelfth round in this year's World Rally Championship.

Citroen is also top in the manufacturers' championship - 20 points up on Ford and with just four rounds to go, things are looking very good for the French manufacturer.

"A top result in Spain would do our chances a world of good in both championships. But our rivals are aware of that, too, so they will have no intention of making life easy for us," noted the four-time world champion.

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"That said, this is a rally I really like and I will try to make the most of this opportunity to pull further clear at the top of the Drivers' standings."

Loeb will start in Spain as the undisputed favourite and given his record on asphalt, he will be odds on to take the victors laurels.

Indeed next weekend's event will mark his ninth outing there - and with wins in 2007, 2006 and 2005, he knows precisely what is needed to get the job done.

"The Monte Carlo and the Rallye Deutschland both take place on 'soiled' asphalt, so the RallyRACC Catalunya is generally seen as the first true asphalt rally of the season," he added.

"As we saw in 2007 at the end of last year's first leg, the changeable weather is a factor we can't afford to ignore, as is the fact that our tyres will not be equipped with a run-flat system.

"It's a high-speed event and I enjoy the circuit type driving style the stages call for. There's no other rally like it in the championship.

"It's been particularly successful for us in recent years, while the C4 WRC was extremely competitive in Catalonia in 2007. Since then, we have sought to fine-tune its handling and balance, especially with a view to optimising its set-up to match our Pirelli tyres."