Six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has admitted he expects road position tactics to play a part in this week's Rally Mexico.
Loeb, who has not lost this rally since 2005, said he hoped neither he nor his main rival Mikko Hirvonen would have to resort to a tactical approach, but the Frenchman acknowledged that situation was unlikely. Courtesy of his win on the opening round of the series, Hirvonen will start the event first on the road in his Ford Focus RS WRC 09. Running in that position, the Finn will be forced to sweep the loose gravel clear for the drivers following. Loeb starts right behind Hirvonen.
"I think tactics will play a part on this rally," said Loeb. "But I hope not. It's difficult to say what will happen now. For tomorrow, I will try to push see what happens. Usually there are problems for someone on this rally, but we have to start pushing and then see what happens with the first day.
"We never think of the tactic before the start, I can't think to that. I just go in the car and go to the stages and see what happens. During the first day, we can say: 'OK, now we are in this situation, we don't want it to be like this.' And we can think to what we can do, but not before. And I hope we don't need [to]."
The season's first gravel rally gets under way from Guanajuato near Leon tonight, with the crews tackling nine stages on tomorrow's opening day tomorrow.
"It's a nice rally," continued Loeb. "But the high altitude can make it tough for the car. You can lose 60 horsepower with the altitude, which can be a bit harder on the engine. It's a tricky rally. It can be hard for the cars, with lots of rocks at the side of the road as well as the altitude. I like the rally, though, it's nice when the roads are fast and wide like this."