Seven-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb says tomorrow's opening day of the Catalunya Rally will have a significant impact on his hopes of clinching an eighth consecutive title this season.
Tomorrow's stages are run mainly on gravel and, following the recce, the drivers have uniformly reported how loose the surface is. The current sunny and dry conditions will do nothing to help Loeb, who would prefer rain to help bind the dirt together.
"It's going to be another day of sweeping tomorrow," said Loeb. "I don't know what will happen. It could be that I will struggle being first on the road, cleaning it for everybody, but sometimes I have been worried about the conditions and we have managed to be in a good position at the end of the day.
"We will see, but certainly tomorrow will have a big impact on the outcome of the rally. It's not going to be an easy day, for sure."
The opening day of the Salou-based event is further complicated by the fact that the final stage tomorrow evening will be run in the dark. From Saturday morning onward, the event returns to asphalt – but with two runs at the near 30-mile El Priorat test to come, day two is far from straightforward.
Loeb will start the Spanish event with a fresh engine fitted in his Citroen, after the 1.6-liter motor expired on the previous round in France.