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WRC NEWS 

No room for sentiment for Loeb

There will be little room for sentiment when Sebastien Loeb teams up with co-driver Daniel Elena for their 100th rally together on Friday.

"It's a nice round figure but it's not that important to me," said Loeb as he prepared to continue his quest for an unprecedented fifth world title at the Swedish Rally.

Frenchman Loeb made a flying start to the season by claiming his fifth Monte Carlo victory last month.

"Our objective will be to try to win which won't be easy," the Citroen driver said in a news release. "For one thing we will start the weekend running first on the road and that can often be a handicap in Sweden.

"Our rivals will also be out to draw level after Monte Carlo and I'm expecting a close fight."

With the exception of Loeb's win in 2004, the Swedish Rally has never been won by a non-Nordic racer. The past two years the Frenchman has had to settle for second place behind now-retired Finn Marcus Gronholm.

The 340-km race is divided into 20 stages over three days.

"Competing on these extremely fast, icy stages is sheer delight," said Loeb.

"Controlling long, high-speed power-slides, setting up the car for corners and using the snowbanks to stay on line is a great experience."

The man to challenge Loeb could be Ford's Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen, runner-up at Monte Carlo.

Two points behind Loeb at the top of the championship standings, 27-year-old Hirvonen has made five previous starts here and finished third in 2007.

"There's a little pressure but I felt pressure in the Monte Carlo Rally and had a good result there," said Hirvonen.

"This is the first rally I'm really thinking I have to win if I want to fight for the drivers' title."


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