Sebastien Loeb admits he isn't a big fan of the fact that this weekend's Rally Cyprus, the third round of the World Rally Championship season, will be run as a mixed-surface event.
To celebrate its return to the calendar, Cyprus will run as a mixture of tarmac and gravel, with the opening leg seeing the crews tackle the asphalt stages before heading onto gravel for leg two and three.
While Loeb has won on three occasions in Cyprus - and is chasing what would be his 50th victory in the WRC – he admitted that he wasn't keen on the idea of running the first day on tarmac while using gravel tyres and said he didn't expect the event to be 'stimulating' for the drivers.
Loeb also argued that running leg one on tarmac, as opposed to the final day of stages, would give the competing crews less encouragement to push, given they then face the prospect of sweeping the road on day two.
''It's a shame to have only done things by half,” he said. “We will be competing on asphalt with ill-suited brakes, tyres and suspension. The balance of our C4 WRC is still very good with this set-up, but we are aware that we will need to look after our tyres to avoid punctures. It will probably be nice for the spectators to see the cars sliding, but I don't think it will be all that stimulating for the drivers.
“The fact that we are starting the weekend on asphalt won't encourage us to attack, either. What will be the point in being first overall on Friday evening. That will mean facing road sweeping duty on the next day's loose stages? That said, this is not a strategy we will be able to afford to adopt because we will be starting the weekend first on the road. Our objective will therefore be to build up as big a lead as possible on the opening day.''
Loeb's co-driver Daniel Elena agreed that the new-look event would be a world away from the one the pair won back in 2006 when it last featured on the WRC calendar, and he admitted that the weather could also play a part in proceedings.
“So much has changed in the space of three years that you've really got to treat this as a new rally,” he said. “We obviously used to drive on the island's asphalt roads to get out to the stages and we thought at the time that this island could put on a great asphalt rally! The organisers have ensured us that this year's gravel stages won't be as twisty or as slow as they were in the past. And we need to take the weather into account, too. It could well rain in Cyprus, even in March.”
Loeb and team-mate Dani Sordo will debut a new look on their C4 WRCs this weekend after Citroen renamed its sporting division from Citroen Sport to Citroen Racing.