Sebastien Loeb admits that the opening round of the new WRC season in Sweden this weekend will be a step into the unknown due to the new regulations in place for 2011.
The dominant Citroen C4 WRC is no more and has been replaced with the DS3 WRC for the new campaign, with the car set to go up against the Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the first time on the snow-covered stages this weekend.
While Citroen has been busy testing the new car over the winter, Loeb admits there are plenty of unknowns about how rival teams will perform during the year ahead and said that Sweden wasn't an event that would give a true indication of how the season is likely to pan out.
“I can't wait!” he said ahead of his first outing in the car. “But I don't think the results will be a pointer to the rest of the season. The most common surface in the world championship is gravel. That's where the title will be decided. In testing I felt more at home on gravel than on snow. While it wouldn't be very good to be two seconds off the pace of our rivals, the first rally isn't the most important one of the season.
“I've got a good feeling about the car. During testing I've been pleasantly surprised by the engine and the overall balance despite the absence of the central differential. I really think that the season's going to go off well, but the stopwatch is the only yardstick. I'm not the kind of guy who says things unless I'm sure of being able to back them up. So we'll have to wait for the results of the opening rallies before making any predictions.”