Sebastien Loeb says he is keen to secure victory on Rally Mexico this weekend to prevent Mikko Hirvonen extending his lead in the WRC standings.
Hirvonen took victory in Sweden to secure the early advantage in the race for the 2010 crown, with Loeb forced to settle for second as he started his bid for another title to add to his already glittering resume.
Loeb will start Rally Mexico as favourite however with an unbeaten record going back to 2006 and the Frenchman said he was keen to take his first win of the year, although he admitted that Hirvonen will again be strong.
“We can't really say that the championship's got off to a bad start with our second place in Sweden but I'm not going to let Mikko Hirvonen open up a gap in the overall classification,” the Citroen ace said. “A win would put us on level pegging.
“The route's an interesting one from a driver's point of view. The stages aren't too hard on the car and they're a kind of digest of all the challenges in a rally with very quick sections, twisty ones and fliers! Our C4 WRC will be very much at home on this type of terrain, which we know very well. But I'm not going to make any predictions as we haven't raced in such conditions for six months.
“Mikko Hirvonen has made a lot of progress recently and he's going to start the rally full of confidence and motivation. Last year, he lost the title by a point and I know he won't give an inch this season! I think Dani will put on a good performance again. Although he's a little less experienced than Mikko he's improving at exactly the same rate. He's got every reason to show what he can do and to win.”
Team-mate Dani Sordo produced an impressive drive early on in Sweden before problems on the second day left him to settle for fourth place, but the Spaniard said he was hoping to make the most of his improved road position on the second event of the year.
“I hope I'll make the same progress as in Sweden!” he said. “I'll have the advantage of starting fourth on the first day, so the line's going to be well swept by the first three. I hold all the aces and I won't forget the job I've been given: namely, to score the maximum number of points for the Manufacturers' World Championship title. Our rivals got off to a better start in Sweden, but we're determined to catch them - now!”