Sebastien Loeb has praised the change of tire usage regulations for this season's World Rally Championship, saying that last season's rules were dangerous.
On certain rounds of this year's WRC, the crews are permitted 10 tires which can be used in exceptional conditions. This move was prompted by heavy rain during last year's Rally Australia, when the crews were forced to run on unsuitable hard-compound covers.
Going into this week's Rally Portugal, the drivers will have their usual allocation of hard rubber, with 10 softer tires available if the rain does arrive in the Algarve.
Asked if he was pleased with the change of rules, the eight-time World Champion said: "Yes, because the old rules jeopardized our safety. I remember having driven on muddy stages with hard tires – it was terrifying! In addition to the 40 'hard' Michelin Latitude Cross tires, we can use up to 10 soft tires. If it doesn't rain, these extra tires will be redundant. But if it does rain, they will enable us to avoid taking any unnecessary risks to stay on the road."
Having missed out on victory at the first-ever Fafe Rally Sprint on Saturday, Loeb added that he was impressed with the warm-up event for the fourth round of the world championship, but would have preferred it to be incorporated into the route.
"It's great to go and see the many fans in the region, but I'd have preferred it if these stages had been included in the rally, as opposed to a standalone, promotional event which has no real sporting value," he said.
Rally Portugal starts with the qualifying stage on Wednesday morning.