Sebastien Loeb says choosing a place in the running order for the next round of the WRC season in Argentina next weekend is going to be a headache for drivers.
Under new rules this season, drivers are able to decide on where they will run through Friday's stages based on their performance in a qualifying stage on Thursday – thereby giving an advantage to the driver who posts the quickest time and is able to select his position first.
Last time out in Portugal, Citroen and Ford made opposite choices when it came to the running order and Loeb said he expected it to be a difficult decision again in the South American race, especially given the length of Friday's leg.
Indeed, Loeb said the weather may be the deciding factor in how drivers select their position.
“After the disappointment of Portugal, I am determined to get back to winning ways, especially at this rally, with its unrivalled atmosphere,” he said. “Once again, choosing our starting positions for the first leg is going to be a real headache.
“In Portugal, we took a measured risk by opting to go first, because there were only 35km of special stages on the first day. In Argentina, there are over 200km of timed stages on the Friday! If it rains, we'll need to be at the front to avoid having to wade through the mud. If it doesn't, then we'd certainly be better off starting in around 15th position.”
Loeb's co-driver Daniel Elena said the length of the event, which features three stages of more than 50km and the longest of the season at more than 65km, would mean drivers didn't go flat out for all three days.
“The roads in Argentina vary from very flowing gravel to fairly rough gravel,” he said. “You never know quite what to expect. What is certain, however, is that none of the drivers will be able to go flat out from start to finish.
“There's a good chance gaps will appear and then disappear, but there may well only be a few seconds between the leaders at the finish.”