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Loeb wary of Hirvonen

Sebastian Loeb arrives at Rally GB looking to continue his incredible supremacy of consecutive WRC titles.

One round separates Citroen's Sebastian Loeb from achieving an unthinkable eighth consecutive WRC title, as the Frenchman continues to re-write the record books.

However, before the Frenchman can celebrate, he has the small task of seeing off the rejuvenated Mikko Hirvonen, who during the last three rounds has dragged his Ford Fiesta RS WRC right back into contention, just eight points behind with a potential 28 on offer in Wales - including the Power Stage.

The situation that Loeb finds himself in could have been made increasingly uneasy had the defending champion not pulled out a gutsy champions drive to win last time out in Spain. The elder Frenchman also has the luxury of not having to contend with his dangerous younger team-mate Sebastian Ogier, who saw his championship charge end thanks to an engine failure on the Spanish tarmac.

The French record breaker concedes 'it's now or never' in a scenario which reminds him of the 2009 season finale where he was neck and neck with Hirvonen once before.

“The scenario's like the one in 2009," he said. "We started Rally Great Britain neck and neck with Mikko Hirvonen and whoever finished in front of the other was world champion.

"Obviously, it's less stressful trying to win the title when it's not the last event. You can say to yourself that in case of problems there will be other match points! This time it's now or never! We'll just have to ignore the additional pressure caused by what's at stake."

Loeb believes the key to claiming the championship is to simply mirror his rival Hirvonen's rally without taking any risks. With the points advantage, the Frenchman realises he can adjust his pace according to the Finn.

“With a seven-point gap between victory and second place and three points for the best time in the Power Stage, it's not a very comfortable situation," he continued.

"My aim won't be to win at any cost but to run my race depending on Mikko's. It doesn't matter to me if Ogier, [Petter] Solberg or [Jari-Matti] Latvala are in the lead provided I'm in front of my rival."


by Simon Evans



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Kasser - Unregistered

November 10, 2011 12:18 AM

I like Mikko, but Loeb deserves the championship this year. He has driven some outstanding rallies, sweeping the road while staying in front of the rest. Mikko has had points handed to him by his teammate (so has Loeb) but in my opinion has not earnt the right to be number 1..... yet. Would love to see a close fight, but Loeb deserves his 8th straight!



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