Loeb opts for 'tactical' rally

World Rally Championship points leader Sebastien Loeb says he will employ his usual tactics at this weekend's Supermag Rally Italia Sardinia as he bids to win his first WRC title and become the first Frenchman to take the crown since Didier Auriol in 1994

Loeb opts for 'tactical' rally

The Citroen ace is currently 28 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Subaru's Petter Solberg, and needs to score just three points more than his Norwegian rival this weekend to secure the title.

The WRC has moved from its traditional Italian venue of Sanremo to the sun-drenched island of Sardinia. But it's not just the venue that has changed, the event is now a gravel rally rather than the sealed asphalt stages.

Both Loeb and Solberg will be the first runners on the road, and the Frenchman believes their role as road sweepers on the gravel routes could cost them both in the early stages.

"I had never been to Sardinia prior to our tests there, but I must say I like what I saw," he said. "I don't know whether the test stages we used are really representative of what we will actually compete on. We found that the hard-packed gravel base didn't cut up that much, and the test stage was quite narrow. It was best not to stray onto the verges, which were rocky. There was also some hard braking. It could be easy to make a mistake.

"[Running first on the road] will be a big handicap unless it rains, and rain in Sardinia at this time of year seems improbable. It could be costly. I'm a little reserved about my chances of winning."

With such a healthy lead Loeb would do best to opt for a safe points finish. But the Frenchman says he will continue to do what he has done in the past few rallies: push at the start and then review his situation.

"In Wales I showed that my championship lead didn't prevent me from going to victory when the chance cropped up," he said. "In Sardinia I'll stick to my usual tactics - push hard from the start and do my best, then reviewing the situation after the first loop. If the wise option is to go for points, then I will go for that."

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