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Loeb: It will be close this year

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb will be going all out to win the WRC drivers' title for the sixth year in succession this season and the Frenchman will start in Ireland this week as the undisputed favourite.

Loeb won eleven of the 15 rounds last year as he swept to a record breaking fifth title, but despite all that success, he had to wait until the penultimate round to actually clinch it.

Now the new season beckons and he believes BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala will both be big threats, along with his own team-mate, Dani Sordo.

Indeed while Loeb headed home a Citroen 1-2 in Ireland in 07, the last and only time the Sligo-based event counted as part of the WRC, he knows the conditions are likely to be very tricky.

"The first time we came here to Ireland, the conditions were rather delicate, but everything went well for us and the result proved decisive in our bid to win a fourth world title,” he noted.

“This year's championship kicks off with four rounds that weren't on last year's calendar, but they are not new territory because we did them all in 2007. And our objective hasn't changed either: after notching up five consecutive world titles, we are obviously aiming for a sixth crown!

“It's going to be an interesting season and I expect it to be very close. Mikko Hirvonen is improving all the time, while Jari-Matti Latvala has really come on, too.

“There are the other C4 WRC drivers as well, of course, starting with my own team-mate, Dani, and also Chris Atkinson."

Loeb and Sordo conducted a pre-event test recently and while that helped them tweak the C4 WRC's set-up, Seb remains cautious.

"The event has everything it takes to be a tough rally. Pre-event testing has enabled us to optimise the stability of our C4 WRC and Dani feels the same way, but it's only on the stages that we will really be able to see how effective our work has been," he concluded.


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