Preview: Loeb has Title in Sight

Newly-wed Sebastien Loeb can celebrate his second world rally title in a row on Sunday while Britain's former champion Colin McRae makes a one-off comeback in the Welsh forests

Preview: Loeb has Title in Sight

Citroen's Loeb, who has put his honeymoon on hold after marrying long-time girlfriend Severine on Saturday, has won a record eight out of 11 races and the title is within reach.

Yet the Frenchman, unshaken by a rare crash in testing last week when his Xsara plunged off the road, will need everything to slot into place before the formal finish in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Loeb, on 93 points with five races left, must beat Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm (61) by eight points and Subaru's Petter Solberg (55) by three without losing ground to Estonian Markko Martin or Finland's Toni Gardemeister.

That will be no easy task. The Frenchman has finished second in Wales for the past two years and Citroen, pulling out at the end of the season, have yet to win a rally that Subaru have dominated for most of a decade.

"Victory has slipped through my fingers twice now, but both times the end result was positive for Citroen," said Loeb, who could move to Ford or remain in a privately-entered Citroen next year. "But this time I do really want to win."

Indoor Stage

Solberg has won the event for the last three years and can equal Finnish veteran Hannu Mikkola's record of four wins in Britain. Even if he has not won since Mexico in March, the Norwegian will still put up a strong fight.

"I'll have to start flat-out straight away," he said.

"The plan and objective is to win but we have to be realistic. It has been a difficult season for us and we have to hope that we have more success than we have had at other gravel events," said Solberg.

Gronholm won in Britain in 2001: "I'm looking forward to getting back onto gravel," he said after finishing third in the last round in Germany. "I think we have a better chance of winning there."

Former champion McRae is the big attraction for the local crowd, a home favourite returning for the first time since 2003 with the Skoda team.

"I still can't say what kind of a result we can expect," said the Scot, whose team are last in the championship.

"We had no comparison times to work with at the test so I think everyone will be keeping a close eye on the times at the end of the first stage this Friday.

"I'm not so worried about our initial results but I'd like to think that we can progress as the event goes on and be setting some really good times by Sunday."

The rally, through the forests of South Wales, has two fewer stages than last year but includes a super special in the 50,000 capacity Millennium Stadium on Saturday night.

The cars will race the 1.1 km stage under the cover of the retractable roof, the first time a world rally championship stage has been held indoors.

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