Loeb is confident for Germany

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb is set on continuing his domination of Rally Deutschland, this weekend; though he's convinced that tyre-choice will be a crucial factor on the 10th round of the World Rally Championship. The injuries which he suffered while testing for the event and which caused him problems on Rally Finland should, he says, no longer trouble him on his 'home' event

Loeb is confident for Germany

Loeb took his first WRC win on this event in 2002 and won it again in 2003 - giving him a perfect record on the rally since it acquired World Championship status. It's also just over the border from his home in Alsace and has become very much his own rally.

"I effectively want to win again," says Loeb. "It's perhaps not the most prestigious round of the championship, but it's one all my friends from home can easily come and watch, since Alsace is just an hour and a half away by car. And although it has never been a simple rally, it has always gone well for me."

Tyre choice is always important in the WRC, but the mix of surfaces on Rally Deutschland - the first primarily asphalt round the crews have tackled since Monte Carlo in January - and the area's unpredictable weather make it crucial to solve rubber riddle here.

"I recently analysed last year's stage times in detail," said Loeb, "as a function of everyone's tyre choices. That reminded me how close the fight had been, right up to the very end. Tyre choices promise to be more critical still following the introduction of quantity restrictions. We're really going to have to play this one close to our chest!"

It is also the first time that Citroen has used the latest evolution of the Xsara WRC on an asphalt rally, but Loeb was pleased with the test he did in the car for this rally, despite that heavy crash.

"I was very pleased with the Xsara I drove during pre-event testing and I am happy with the work that has been done," he said. "The car was easy to drive and nicely balanced. I felt confident, and that is important given how delicate the conditions can be."

As for the crunching impact he suffered during that test and the effect it's had on him since, he explained: "I was in quite a lot of pain in Finland following my accident during testing over the Baumholder ranges. Over the last two stages, I had to manage my lead over Janne Tuohino despite suffering quite badly, especially on landing after the jumps. My programme since Finland has been check-ups, treatment and rest. I'm glad to say the pain is going away and I intend to be fully fit in time for Germany!"

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