Sebastien Loeb has admitted that he expects the WRC season opener in Sweden to be a tough challenge due to the conditions expected for the event.
The defending champion heads into the event as favourite to secure a seventh title although he conceded that he doesn't see himself as the favourite for Rally Sweden – with the likes of Mikko Hirvonen and Marcus Gronholm more at home in the icy conditions.
“I like starting the season with this rally but it looks like the conditions are going to be very difficult,” the Citroen ace said. “You just have to stay on the road, which isn't all that easy when I think back to the 2008 rally. My only aim is to rack up another world title, but the way last season panned out shows that you can't count your chickens before they're hatched!
“The conditions will be very different to those of the 2008 event. Snow's fallen on frozen gravel, the temperature hasn't risen above zero and the snow hasn't been transformed into a layer of ice. We're faced with a layer of powdery snow covering frozen earth so the grip level is going to keep on changing. It's a bit like Russian roulette, and I'd really prefer a good layer of ice with constant grip. I don't think I'm the favourite, as the Finns will feel much more at home than me. But you just have to keep it between the hedges!”
Loeb added that every point would be vital during the season ahead and he would maintain the approach he has used in recent years; to fight for victory in every event.
“Since I lost the title by one point (in 2003) I've always applied the same logic,” he said. “Every point is vital when you want to win a championship as difficult as the WRC. The way things went last year only confirmed this viewpoint. This being said, when Lady Luck deserts you, there's nothing you can do!
“With this season about to begin I'm still in the same frame of mind as last year. I'll start every rally with the intention of winning it.”