Loeb: rule changes can help us

Double World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb believes the rule changes for the 2006 season will help his efforts of clinching a third consecutive title in a privateer team, since his manufacturer-backed rivals will have lost their advantage

Loeb, who drove for Citroen last year, will drive a Kronos-run Xsara this year until the French carmaker makes a return to the sport in 2007.

But despite admitting the factory-backed drivers would normally have an advantage, he says the new rules this season could level the playing field.

"They may have an advantage because they will have more people working on their behalf," Loeb said in an interview on his official website. "Although, with the new regulations, it shouldn't make as much of a difference."

The Frenchman was also adamant that his new team environment will not change his approach to rallying - or the identity of his rivals, for that matter.

"Whether I'm driving for Citroen or Kronos doesn't change anything about my approach," he said. "My approach to driving shouldn't change even if the environment is different. There is no reason why it won't work as it is.

"It's done me good to have a break, even if we've done a fair bit of testing. I think everything is in place to attack the new season; at any rate I am.

"We have done a lot of testing on all surfaces since Rally Australia to make sure the car is properly adapted to the new regulations, especially in respect of the switch to passive differentials. We've had to do a lot of modifications and work on the car's set-up."

As to who he thinks will be his main rivals, Loeb had no surprise answer: "The same as always - Gronholm and Solberg! They will be my main competition at Monte Carlo and at all the rounds of the 2006 championship.

"But with the new rules there are some unknown quantities. Will Ford and Subaru be ready? We've done our best. Maybe another team will do even better. We'll soon find out..."

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