Loeb: "Envisaging Victory is Easy"

Sebastien Loeb is hoping to get his Championship aspirations back on course by claiming victory at the forthcoming Rally New Zealand

Loeb: "Envisaging Victory is Easy"

The Frenchman has had a mixed season so far: he easily won the season opener in Monte Carlo before retiring in Sweden with an engine problem, and then a suspension problem forced him well down the order in Mexico before a spirited drive brought him back to fourth at the completion of the rally.

Five points behind Petter Solberg in the standings is not ideal, but Loeb is not ready to throw in the towel just yet: "I have the impression it's down to bad luck - the part that cracked in Mexico is a part we have used on numerous rallies, including on rough gravel. As far as outright performance goes, the picture is fairly satisfactory.

"In Sweden, I was able to match the pace of the leaders, and my time on the first stage in Mexico was on a par with that of Petter. Our performance during the latter part of the event was the other positive side of Mexico - when Daniel [Elena] and I crossed the finish line of the final stage and we were sure we had finished in 4th place, the joy we felt was comparable to what we usually feel when we win.

"I tell myself that the current run will come to an end. Our car has always been the most reliable of the pack and there is no reason why that should change."

One advantage Loeb will gain is that he will not be first on the road in New Zealand, which means that the Championship leaders will act as road sweepers by compacting the gravel for their pursuers. It's an advantage that is not lost on Loeb.

"Envisaging victory is easy! It will be a relief not to be first on the road - last year, after serving as road sweeper throughout the first loop of stages and dropping 44 seconds, I knew I wouldn't be able to win. The second loop was identical and I only dropped a further 4 seconds. After Sunday's first group of stages, I was still 47s behind the leader who was battling hard to defend first place.

"The moral of the story is that practically all that deficit was lost running first on the road on the Friday. That said, the terrain could be different this time round; it could rain, or whatever, but it will be nice if we are in a position where we are challenging for top spot in New Zealand which is one of the few events that has resisted the team so far."

Rally New Zealand starts on April 7.

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