Mikko Hirvonen will hope to secure his second win of the WRC season when the series heads to Jordan for the third round of the year.
Hirvonen took victory in Sweden to secure the early advantage, but then could only finish fourth in Mexico as Sebastien Loeb moved into the series lead.
Having won in Jordan back in 2008, the Ford man will now target his second win on the event to close the gap at the top, although he will be forced to do so over a shortened event after heavy rain in the country forced changes to be made to the planned route.
Admitting that the gravel roads are unlike any other loose surface stages, Hirvonen admitted that it would be a challenging weekend but said he was confident of being competitive in the Arab event.
"The surface is hard and it feels like driving on asphalt,” he said. “There will be loose gravel on the surface for the first pass through the stages, so the car will need a slightly soft set-up. But when the stages are repeated and the roads are clean the set-up will be harder, almost like we use on asphalt. There are no ditches there and in some bends it's possible to make big cuts, so we can't make the car too low. It's a compromise set-up between gravel and asphalt.
"It's the most difficult rally of the year on which to make pace notes. It's fast and high speed sections are punctuated by small crests. But suddenly the rhythm can change and you come over a crest to find a series of hairpin bends. There are no trees or bushes in the desert to use as sight lines so the notes must be pin-point accurate. We've analysed the reasons why we weren't as competitive as we had hoped on the last round in Mexico and tried a few options during our test in Sardinia this week. I'm confident we'll be fully competitive in Jordan.”
Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who turns 25 on the final day of the event, agreed with Hirvonen about the challenges that will be faced and said it would be important to make good notes to avoid the many rocks that litter the stages.
"In 2008 the roads had a fine layer of sand lying on top of a hard, smooth base and it made them slippery during the first pass," he said. "The sand was swept away and in the second pass the roads were so hard and grippy that you could see black braking marks from the tyres on the surface – just like asphalt. It has rained hard there recently so I expect the surface might be a little softer and more loose this year.
"The roads are man-made in places and it means there is no natural flow to them so they are difficult to follow. They often turn immediately after a crest and I was nearly caught out on a few occasions two years ago. My pace notes were not accurate enough and I need to improve them on next week's recce.
"The roads were built with rocks as a base and they are visible on the side of the track. In corners where it's possible to take a cut, these stones are dragged out by the cars and it's easy to damage the suspension by hitting a rock while trying to save a second or two."