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GP Week : Issue 2
36 job perfectly. It only takes one person to do something wrong and everybody suffers. Obviously I spend most of my time with my co-driver, Daniel Elena. Then comes our car engineer, then the team boss. "My co-driver, for example, has to be someone I must trust completely what he says to me. I feel very well with Daniel, I don’t know if I could get that confidence with anyone else.” The car engineer with whom Loeb works most closely is Didier Clement. “My car is his sole responsibility. I certainly speak a lot with him, even on the road sections. We talk about everything! "Once we have finished a stage I tell Didier everything that is in my mind, what I feel, what is good, what is wrong with the car, so he can begin to work out what we should be doing. Sometimes I guess we are just passing the time, but sometimes it is really important! It means he can anticipate exactly what has to be done when I bring the car back to service.” The team boss fundamental in Loeb’s career has been Guy Frequelin, who retired at the end of the 2007 season. “He was a perfectionist, he wanted everything we did to be perfect. That was good for me. He had a big previous background experience in rallies, both as a driver then a team manager. "When I first joined the Citroen Sport, especially in my first two or three years in the team, he gave me a lot of good advice. He used to go into the stages and watch what I did as I passed and see how I compared with the other drivers. That told me a lot. It helped me choose the best suspension settings, sometimes told me how to change my driving style. And the way to manage my rallies.” 2007 saw the start of the C4 era. “For me it was a big change because it was the first time I had a chance to be involved in the development of a car by myself from scratch,” says Loeb. “This new situation brought a lot of pressure to deliver on our first event with the C4 at Monte Carlo last year. Happily we immediately felt good in the car both on tarmac and on gravel. "The C4 is a bit different to drive than the Citroen Xsara WRC we had used for six years. The C4 feels a bit heavier, but it feels more stable. This year we have the new engine in the C4. It does not feel much different, maybe you have to rev the new engine a bit more. I do know it gives us a few horsepower more, [but] torque seems to be the same. I think it is good.” The Monte Carlo Rally seems to be Loeb territory more than any other. The wintry surfaces keep changing and Loeb has always gone well there. “I have been leading that event every time I was there. The changing conditions suit my driving style, but more on tarmac than on gravel. I don’t really know any other reason why I go so well there. It is not the same in Corsica or Catalunya for me. On those rallies I have to take much more risk to get the same type of speed as I get in Monte Carlo.” Rallying has brought many changes in Loeb’s life, not only personally but also for his family. The man from the Alsace region of France nowadays spends all his time when not away on rallies in Switzerland with his wife Severine and their young daughter Valentine. “In fact, for our family it is not a big problem to live abroad,” he says. “We live in the French- speaking part of Switzerland and I feel comfortable there, and of course life is much more quiet. I feel it is easier to have a normal type of life like I want when I am there, and I think from the family aspect it will be a more quiet sort of environment for a child to go to school. "My daughter’s surname would no doubt make it more difficult for her to go to school in France than in Switzerland!” And the future? “I have a contract through to the end of 2009, after that I have no idea what I will do. It all depends on the way that rallying itself develops. We have new car regulations coming in 2010, we really do not know how many rallies we will have to enter in future, we do not know how many manufacturers will be involved in the championship and of course I have no idea how strong will be my motivation. "I just hope I can win the championship again. I hope we will still have some good tussles on the stages. I expect I will be battling this year against [Mikko] Hirvonen, maybe [Jari-Matti] Latvala as well and also my team-mate [Dani] Sordo on tarmac. “And for the rest, it is wait and see!” continued from page 33