Citroen ace Sebastien Loeb will be the favourite on the Rallye Deutschland this weekend - and not only because he is the 'current master' of the WRC.

The Frenchman has notched up seven wins thus far this season and he now comfortably leads the drivers' championship by 28 points, with just six rounds to go. His record in Germany though is what will have his rivals more concerned this time out, and after taking his debut win in the WRC here in 2002, he went on to win again in 2003 and in 2004. It is no surprise then he is keen to repeat that feat this year too.

"I obviously want to win, but that won't make me change my approach to the event," he insisted.

"They say I'm favourite - but I still prefer to be very cautious! None of my previous wins here were easy. Every year I have had a fight on my hands all the way to the finish. And the weather has occasionally complicated things.

"'Bosenberg' was very wet last year and it was a case of doing all you could just to keep the car on the road to complete the stage without damage. You risked going off every time you turned the steering wheel. I think they were the most difficult conditions I have ever come across. I therefore feel confident, but I'm also very wary!"

Loeb recently tested in Germany to get to grips with the Xsara again on asphalt, having not competed on tarmac with it since January, when the season kicked off with the Monte Carlo Rally. The Frenchman added that it was a successful outing.

"I tested in the Mosel Valley vineyards and in the Saarland region," he recounted. "It only took a couple of hundred metres to get back into asphalt mode. I feel comfortable with the Xsara whatever the surface. The current asphalt spec car has obviously benefited from all the little improvements that have seen the car progress since the beginning of the season.

"We updated and fine-tuned the settings that will serve as our basic set-up for Germany. We made small, successive changes and also tested the different tyre solutions proposed by Michelin. I'm pleased with the result. The car is precise, efficient and easy to control."



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