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Loeb expects tough start in Norway

Sebastien Loeb expects to lose ground on the first day of the Rally Norway due to the amount of snow in the stages - but is not ruling out fighting for victory

As the championship leader following his Rally Ireland win, Loeb will be first on the road in Norway. As expected, the stage surfaces have a thorough coating of snow, so Loeb will be clearing a quicker path for those behind him.

The world champion said he was pleased that Norway was going to be a proper winter event - recent Swedish Rallies having suffered from a lack of snow - and just hopes he can minimise the time loss on day one.

"The conditions are very, very good," said Loeb. "There's a lot of snow and it's very cold, so a real winter rally. So I'm sure we will have a lot of fun in this rally.

"I hope I will be able to fight for the victory. I know I will lose some time on the first day because of the road conditions - there's too much snow for the first car.

"So it will be difficult on Friday. But we'll see, I hope to not lose too much time and then on Saturday we'll see what we can do.

"It's difficult to beat the Finnish drivers, they're real specialists on this surface. The first thing is to stay on the road, because I went off the road (in Norway) two years ago.

"You have to push from the start to the end because it's always a very close battle on this surface and sometimes you cannot catch back up. It will be important to start fast on the first day and not lose too much time with the road conditions."

Loeb has only won on snow once in his career (in Sweden in 2004), and crashed when the Rally Norway was last on the calendar in 2007.

But after setting the quickest time around the short shakedown stage this morning, Loeb is optimistic that he can erase unhappy memories of the 2007 event.

"In 2007 with the C4 it was difficult here for me," he admitted. "There was a lot of snow and it was only the second rally with the C4, so the setting was not perfect. We had a lot of understeer, and the car was difficult to drive, especially in those conditions.

"So we worked on that and the car is good now. It felt good in the test so I hope we can do a good rally."

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