Citroen's Dani Sordo has vowed to 'push like hell' on the mixed-surface Rally de Espana next week in a bid to triumph in front of his home fans.
Sordo is on a roll after winning his debut WRC event in Germany back August and after finishing second in France earlier this month, and the Spaniard will be keen to maintain that momentum, especially given he faces uncertain future.
“The feeling is great [going to Catalunya],” he said. “I think it will be a rally a little bit like France. I will push like hell.
“I've always been there or thereabouts on tarmac, so there was no reason for that to be any different this year. Having said that, we haven't had any proper tarmac conditions as yet this season, with ice and snow in Monte-Carlo and quite a lot of rain and mud in Germany and France. I hope the weather will be a bit better in Catalonia. I think I'll feel confident there and I'll be on the pace again.”
Despite his self-assurance though, Sordo concedes it will be tough, especially given the route in Catalunya is brand new.
“Obviously, I would dearly love to win this rally, more than any other. I made my World Championship debut here, I won my first race in the JWRC and I secured my first podium finish in the Xsara WRC. But it won't be easy to manage the race. The overall leader at the end of the tarmac stages will be first on the road the next day [the Sunday], sweeping the racing line for everyone else. It's a shame, because that will undoubtedly lead to strategies being adopted to avoid that situation,” he explained.
“I'm really disappointed that there is no re-classification at the end of the second leg. What is the point in pushing hard, building up a good lead, if you then find yourself first on the road, sweeping the line for your rivals on the Sunday?” he added.
“The gravel stages are so slippery that the leader won't be able to prevent his challengers from making up ground on him.”
Team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, however, is not so concerned about that, and reckons it could actually work to his advantage.
“The conditions we usually get in Spain are fairly consistent and that should help me to get back to a good performance level,” said Hirvonen, who struggled in France.
“To some extent, not being first on Saturday evening won't be a handicap. Sunday is when we'll need to push hard to try and secure the win!”