28 September 2009
Loeb focused on Spanish victory
Sebastien Loeb insists his focus on Rally Spain is firmly on victory as he seeks to overhaul Mikko Hirvonen in the race for the World Rally Championship title.
Loeb looked to have closed the gap to the Finn on Rally Australia only to be stripped of victory when an irregularity was found on his Citroen C4 following the event.
The resultant one minute penalty handed victory to Hirvonen and allowed him to extend his lead to five points heading into the penultimate round of the season this weekend.
Loeb has won in Spain for the past four years and will seek a fifth straight win to close the gap to Hirvonen going into the season finale in Wales, and the Frenchman said his priority was to win the event and hope team-mate Dani Sordo can also finish ahead of his Ford rival.
"It's difficult to feel confident when you are dependent on the results of others,” he said. “It's not a position I wanted to be in, but I can only accept it. That said, a Citroen one-two here in Spain seems to be a higher probability than in, say, Sweden.
“If Dani, or anybody else, manages to finish between Mikko and me, that will practically put us back level again. If that happens, we'll see how we approach Rally GB. For the moment, my priority is to win in Spain."
Loeb also insisted that he had pit his penalty in Australia firmly behind him and admitted that the situation could have been a lot worse than it was.
"I had just one thing in mind at the start of Rally Australia, and that was to finish ahead of Mikko,” he said. “It was the sort of terrain on which he is very strong, and I had to pull out all the stops to beat him.
“When I was told of the penalty after the finish, my immediate feeling was one of immense frustration. Our C4 WRC was legal, but an administrative error in the homologation papers deprived us of the victory we had just taken on the stages. I can't bear a grudge against my team because anyone can make a mistake, including me, too, this year.
“With hindsight, although the penalty was hard to swallow. I tell myself it would have been worse had I finished behind Mikko without being capable of matching his speed. It came at a bad time, but I've put it behind me now…"
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