Loeb Chases Third Win in a Row

Sebastien Loeb's rivals cannot afford to let Citroen's world champion triumph again in Cyprus this weekend

Loeb Chases Third Win in a Row

The Frenchman won on the island last year, after Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm was disqualified for technical reasons, and this time arrives having won the last two rallies and with a one-point lead over Subaru's Norwegian Petter Solberg.

Gravel is not Loeb's favourite surface and rivals know they have to make the most of their chances before the championship moves on to the asphalt rounds later in the year.

"In order to get the title, we have to try and deny Loeb as many points as possible on the gravel events because he might be even more difficult to beat on asphalt," said twice champion Gronholm.

The Finn, stripped of his win last year when stewards ruled that his car's water pumps did not conform to technical regulations, was quickest in Thursday's shakedown.

Solberg, who lost his lead to Loeb in the last rally in Sardinia after winning in Sweden and Mexico, said he would start cautiously in what promises to be a gruelling contest.

"Of course we're going to try to win but we know how difficult it is to do that these days," said the Norwegian, who won the event by more than four minutes in 2003.

"I'm going to start calm, see where the level is and then go for maximum attack on Saturday. I think the rally is going to be very rough this year, it depends on how much they've worked on the roads."

Loeb has 35 points to Solberg's 34 and Estonian Markko Martin's 28 for Peugeot. Gronholm has 26.

Rocky Roads

The rocky roads in the Troodos Mountains are known as car-breakers while the slow stages provide little air flow for drivers struggling with the heat.

Citroen have not won three rallies in succession before but Loeb, who started off the season with a win in Monte Carlo, sounded confident.

"It's been a good start to the season. Better even, to my eyes, than last year," he said.

"In 2004 our third win, which came in Cyprus, was awarded to me after the event. This year I scored my third win in Sardinia after a straight fight with my closest rival, just as I did in New Zealand."

The Frenchman will have the disadvantage of being 'sweeper', the first on the road as championship leader, when drivers leave Limassol for Friday's first leg.

"The stages are the same as 2004 and I hope they don't cut up too much," said Loeb. "Last year we had the impression that they were just as we had left them after two runs in 2003."

Ford hope to celebrate a milestone on Sunday afternoon with a 50th successive finish in the points, a record-breaking sequence that started in Monte Carlo at the start of the 2002 season.

Finland's Toni Gardemeister is fifth in the standings for Ford and has scored in all five rounds so far this year.

Drivers face 326.68 km of special stages in a total route of 1063.92 km. The rally ends in Limassol on Sunday.

shares
comments
Citroen Eyes WRC Return in 2007
Previous article

Citroen Eyes WRC Return in 2007

Next article

Pirelli Trio Dominate Shakedown

Pirelli Trio Dominate Shakedown
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022