Seven-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, could well be on track for an incredible eighth title as he prepares for this weekend’s Rally of Finland.

The 37-year old currently holds a 17-point lead in the 2011 championship after winning three of the seven events held so far this season.

Australian rally fans will get their chance to see the amazing Frenchman in action when he competes in Rally Australia, on the Coffs Coast, from September 8-11.

RallySport Magazine had the chance to pose a few questions to Loeb, asking him about the season so far, his team-mate Sebastien Ogier, and his thoughts on competing in Coffs Harbour for the first time.

The World Champion’s answers were considered, but to the point, including a total lack of knowledge about Rally Australia’s new location and the stages that he will encounter in September.

RSM: You've had a good start to the year and the new Citroen has gone very well so far. What have been the biggest challenges of running a new car this year?

Sebastien Loeb: We had to adapt the new car to the different rallies. The team has done a great job by making a very easy to drive car, rather nervous as I like. The regulations about the engines were different and the engineers had to work on that especially.

RSM: You have not only had to tackle the Fords of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, but also your own team-mate. Has that made you more determined?

Loeb: Nothing more. I am still as determined as I was.

RSM: After Rally Finland, and before Rally Australia, comes Rally Germany. Do you expect the new car to be just as competitive on tarmac as it has been on gravel?

Loeb: We hope so. We have been testing in Germany to prepare (for) the rally two weeks ago and it seems that the car is efficient, well balanced, and cool to drive. Hopefully we can do as well as on gravel.

RSM: Looking ahead to this year's Rally Australia, the event is running in a new location. Are you looking forward to the challenge of the new event?

Loeb: Yes ,it’s always a challenge to discover new places, new roads, and having to make new pacenotes.

RSM: Coffs Harbour is famous for Australian Championship rallies. What have you heard about the region and the stages for this year's rally?

Loeb: Nothing in fact…

RSM: How does the Citroen team prepare for a brand new event in the championship?

Loeb: I think the engineers will have a look on what they can find about the stages and the place and we will determine a wide range of set up that we can adapt. After that the shakedown could help us to work a bit before the start of the event, if it’s well chosen and corresponding to the stage roads.

RSM: The stages are likely to be fast and flowing, and similar to Rally New Zealand in places. Do you think this will suit you and the DS3?

Loeb: Yes, why not? Even though I won once in NZ it’s not my favourite type of terrain. But let’s wait and see what we will find.

RSM: If you are leading the championship before Rally Australia, do you think road position will be critical in deciding the rally winner?

Loeb: Yes, like on all gravel rallies. But as we don’t know how the roads will clean there, we cannot say now.

RSM: This will be the third location for Rally Australia, after Western Australia and then Kingscliff. What are your impressions of Australia - both as a rallying location and as a country?

Loeb: It’s a big country! I am always amazed by the time it takes to fly from one side to the other! But otherwise it’s a nice place with a beautiful landscape. Not sure about the interest of the public for our discipline, but hopefully there are more fans in the new region.

RSM: Looking ahead, there has been speculation that you will retire from the WRC. Should you win a record eighth title this year, what are your plans for the future?

Loeb: I don’t know yet what I will do.

RSM: Do you see yourself retiring completely, or moving into other forms of motorsport competition?

Loeb: No, I see myself active in competition of one form or another.

About Rally Australia

Get more information on RallySport Mag's official Rally Australia Spectator Tour HERE.

The 2011 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) pits cars and drivers on events in 13 countries, including Australia, though some of the toughest, and most varied, conditions on the planet. 

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