Sébastien Loeb wants to draw clear of co-championship leader Markko Martin by winning the New Zealand Rally this weekend, but the Estonian says he is ready for the Citroën star’s challenge.

Sébastien Loeb wants to draw clear of co-championship leader Markko Martin by winning the New Zealand Rally this weekend, but the Estonian says he is ready for the Citroën star’s challenge.


Loeb, who won the opening two rounds of the WRC season before crashing out of the Mexican Rally, will campaign the 2004 Citroën Xsara WRC for the first time in New Zealand.


"I hope to be quick and fighting for victory," said Loeb, who considers the fast gravel rally to be one of his favourite events.


The latest version of the Xsara was recently homologated and includes a number of new parts. "They are small evolutions, not revolutions," the Frenchman said, "although the smallest improvement is always welcome."


Citroën homologated new lightweight body panels to take advantage of new-for-2004 technical regulations and improve weight distribution. New engine parts were also introduced - crankshaft, conrods, pistons and flywheel are all new, as are the exhaust manifold and turbo wastegate.


But Martin, who won last month’s Rally Mexico to join Loeb atop the drivers’ standings, will also benefit from an updated version of his Ford Focus RS WRC 04 in New Zealand.


“Victory in Mexico was a superb result, and we need to follow that up by going to New Zealand and winning there as well,” the Estonian said. “The new Focus felt good in testing, and I’m looking forward to getting the feel of that on a rally. There are no big changes – it’s just a small evolution of the 03 car, but it keeps us going forward and I know this is a winning car.”

Original article from Car