World champion expresses doubts about running gravel tyres on tarmac in Cyprus Rally.
Reigning world champion and 2009 series leader, Sebastien Loeb, isn’t so sure World Rally Championship organisers have got the mixed surface format right for next weekend’s Cyprus Rally.
The event, round three of the 2009 WRC, runs on tarmac on day one and on gravel for days two and three. And on the first day cars must tackle the tarmac on Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyres.
"It's a shame to have only done things by half,” says Loeb who initially supported the mixed-surface format.
“We will be competing on asphalt with ill-suited brakes, tyres and suspension. The balance of our Citroen C4 WRC is still very good with this set-up, but we are aware that we will need to look after our tyres to avoid punctures., tyres and suspension. The balance of our Citroen C4 WRC is still very good with this set-up, but we are aware that we will need to look after our tyres to avoid punctures.
“It will probably be nice for the spectators to see the cars sliding, but I don't think it will be all that stimulating for the drivers.
“The fact that we are starting the weekend on asphalt won't encourage us to attack, either. What will be the point in being first overall on Friday evening?
“That will mean facing road sweeping duty on the next day's loose stages.” On gravel rallies the first car acts virtually as road sweeper, clearing the special stage surfaces of loose stones
“That said, this is not a strategy we will be able to afford to adopt,” says Loeb who, as series leader, will start day one first on the road. “Our objective will therefore be to build up as big a lead as possible on the opening day."
Loeb and his works Citroen co-driver, Daniel Elena, won the Cyprus in 2004, 2005 and 2006 when it was an-all gravel rally. They’ve won both WRC rounds so far this year.