Sebastien Loeb feels he will be taking a step into the unknown at the street circuit Vila Real and is considering a risky qualifying strategy to reap the biggest points haul in Portugal.

The nine-time World Rally champion is looking to haul in his Citroen Total WTCC team-mates Yvan Muller and Jose Maria Lopez at the top of the WTCC drivers' standings and his recent progress was stalled by a retirement in race two at his home event last time out.

Loeb had been in a rich vein of form before his race two DNF in France after taking three consecutive rostrums including two victories. He is now determined to cut Lopez's 74-point lead in the championship in Portugal.

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The Vila Real street circuit is set to host its maiden WTCC event this weekend and will throw up an unpredictable challenge at all the drivers.

Loeb is anticipating the track to be extremely difficult and says qualifying strongly will be essential for his chances of decent finishes.

As a result, Loeb is preparing to use the reserve grid format for race two to his advantage by unconventionally qualifying lower down the order to gain a better starting position for the second race.

"You have to ask the right questions to know if it's preferable to aim for Q3 and the outright pole or rather concentrate on tenth place in qualifying for the race 2 inverted grid," Loeb said. "The circuit should be a proper driving challenge, but I also regret the absence of a passing zone."

Race of Portugal is set to host round eight of the 2015 World Touring Car Championship on the 11-12 July.