Reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb says the strategy for the final day of next week's Rally Mexico will be vital to success on the Leon-based event.
Sunday's final loop includes four stages with no service – the fourth of which will be the power stage, offering three bonus points to the fastest driver. Having won the event for the last five years, Loeb is keen to continue that run with Citroen next week.
"Sunday's stages," said Loeb, "will perhaps be a bit more difficult to manage in terms of strategy, because the four stages are being run without any service period. Depending on the positions and time differences, we'll have to attempt to solve an equation with several imponderables: should we take one or two spare tires; focus on fighting for position in the overall standings or in the power stage? It will be interesting right up to the very end."
As in recent years, Mexico includes a high number of spectator stages, with seven of the rally's 24 tests run on the asphalt roads around Guanajuato and Leon.
"I don't particularly like this kind of rallying, but you have to take it seriously because you can quickly lose two or three seconds, which is the sort of gap you generally get at the end of a 20-kilometer stage," said Loeb. "I much prefer the conventional gravel stages. In Mexico, the mountain roads are generally fairly wide and quick. Of course, there are some winding, narrow sections where you have to be more careful, but by and large it's a rally that is fun to drive."
Loeb's Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen, who has been on the podium twice in six visits to Mexico, said his pre-event test had inspired confidence ahead of his gravel debut in a DS3 WRC.
"I'm excited at the prospect of competing in this rally with Citroen," said Hirvonen. "The team has always achieved good results in Mexico. I'm all the more enthusiastic for the fact that the testing I did on gravel went very well. I had an excellent feeling with the car."