29 April 2013
Loeb cautious about Rally Argentina chances
Sebastien Leob: I don't know what sort of feeling I'll have on the first few stages in Argentina. I think that you can lose your rhythm pretty quickly...
WRC legend Sebastien Loeb has played down his chances of winning Rally Argentina for an eighth consecutive time this week.
Loeb has scaled back his WRC commitments this year and the trip to South America will be his third of four planned outings.
Having sat out the events in Portugal and Mexico though, he is cagey about what he might achieve on the fifth round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, despite his success on Rallye Monte Carlo - the season opener - and his runners-up spot on the snow in Sweden.
“It's difficult to say whether not competing in the last two rounds will affect my pace at the start of the rally,” admitted the Citroen driver. “Apart from one day of testing, I haven't driven on gravel since the 2012 Rally de Espana. So I don't know what sort of feeling I'll have on the first few stages in Argentina. I think that you can lose your rhythm pretty quickly, and that's why I'm cautious about my chances.
“There's no denying the fact that I have pretty much moved on from rallying and am now focussed on the future. This reduced programme is a good way to continue to compete for Citroen in 2013, but I'm not as well prepared as Mikko [Hirvonen], Dani [Sordo – my Citroen team-mates] and the other guys [at the top level in the WRC]."
“We'll see what happens when we get our helmets on – although I'll obviously be aiming to secure the best possible result!” he added.
Citroen have struggled in recent events, with Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier taking a hat-trick of victories, but Loeb still reckons the French manufacturer has what it takes to succeed.
“Obviously, I watched the rallies [in Portugal and Mexico] and saw how they went. It wasn't always easy for Citroen faced with a rival that was already managing to combine very high levels of performance and reliability on a state-of-the-art car. But the season isn't over yet, because winning a thirteen round championship where all the rounds count also requires consistency," continued the nine-time WRC champion.
“We saw that the DS3 WRCs were quicker in Portugal than in Mexico, so that suggests that the team is making progress. It also confirms that the DS3 WRC is more comfortable when there is a high level of grip.”
As for himself, Loeb hasn't been taking it easy since Rally Sweden, and has already begun to make his mark as a GT racer. He will also tackle the fearsome Pikes Peak hillclimb with a Peugeot 208 T16 later in the year as well as taking in the opening rounds of the 2013 Porsche Supercup.
“Whenever I thought I'd have some free time, I found myself busy, more often than not at the wheel of a racing car! After Argentina, I've got another four other racing weekends. I think I'll only be spending something like two days at home in May. But I can't really complain – I was the one that chose to accept the opportunities that came up.
“I'm even busier than I have been in recent years, but it means I can work on my ability to adapt and acquire some experience geared towards the plans I share with Citroen. This was the year that we had to do all of this. I can learn how to do nothing later,” he concluded.
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