Sebastien Loeb has predicted a close battle for victory in the fourth round of the WRC season in Jordan this weekend.

The Frenchman goes into the weekend sitting second in the championship standings but it level on points with Ford rival Mikko Hirvonen after the events in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal.

Having taken podium finishes in the last two events after a tough opening round in the Swedish snow, Loeb heads to Jordan in confident mood but he admits that the fight for victory will be hotly-contested - with Ford pair Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier and privateer Petter Solberg all expected to battle for honours.

"The championship title battle looks like it's going to be very close, but that's no real surprise," he said. "There are at least five victory contenders at the start of each round, so the Jordanian rally will be a hotly-contested one."

Loeb will start the event second on the road and with that not the ideal position as the stages are swept for the cars behind on the opening day, the multiple champion said it was important to stay in touch with the leaders through Thursday's stages.

"Depending on the sectors, a more or less thick layer of dust covers the road," he said. "The quality of the surface changes according to the passage of the cars. The more the stages are swept, the quicker they become. It's better not to be first out on the road as you won't be penalised by these conditions. We're setting off in second place on Thursday. It's not the best position but we'll have to try and stay in contact with the front-runners to be in with a chance of winning."

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