Citroen Total World Rally Team drivers Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier are heading to Rally Finland realistic about the challenge ahead of them, up against the Finnish Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.
With Loeb leading the championship standings his priority is to secure a good points haul without risking everything to try and win the event.
“We're going to be up against highly-motivated rivals who are ready to defend their territory,” he said. “The titles at the end of the season are still our main priority. Victory in Finland isn't an out-and-out objective. Depending on how I feel I'll see how hard I want to push. So far I've felt very much at ease on gravel in the DS3 WRC. If that's how I feel in Finland, it'll give my confidence an extra boost.”
Despite winning the event in 2008 it is not Loeb's favourite on the calendar.
“It's not my favourite terrain,” he said. “Maybe these roads don't suit my natural style of driving. On the other hand the Finns are very much at home on them. They probably feel they're taking fewer risks in an environment they know like the back of their hand. I remember that I had to give 200% to win this rally.”
With ground to make up in the standings against his teammate, Ogier is looking to take the fight to the Fords in Finland, particularly after finishing second there last year.
“I'm going to do everything I can to be on the pace right from the first stage,” he said. “It's important to bag a big haul of points in Finland.
“We know it's going to be a difficult rally against local drivers who are always redoubtable on their home turf. But a victory here isn't beyond our grasp. My aim is to put myself in a confident frame of mind right from the green light and to really push in the opening kilometres. That's what was missing last year.”