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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Rally remains Loeb's main focus

World Rally Championship
Event: Wales Rally GB Venue: Cardiff Date: 4-7 December
Coverage: Daily reports on BBC Sport website
Rally car and Sebastian Loeb
Loeb (right) is looking for his first ever Rally GB stage win

World champion Sebastian Loeb will stay in rallying after this weekend's season-ending Wales Rally GB but says he will keep his career options open.

Loeb, 34, travelled to Barcelona for tests with the Red Bull Formula One team last month and told BBC 5 Live: "I'm looking for some new challenges.

"I have so much experience in rallies that I'd now like to discover some new things and Formula One is exciting."

The French five-time world champion is bidding for his maiden win in Wales.

With the 2008 WRC championship sewn up in Japan last month, Loeb's taste of F1 was a rare chance to step away from the pressures of rallying.

However, Loeb has remained faithful to the sport where he built his reputation as a world-class performer.

"The technique is different [in Formula One] but the pace is also very different," he added.

"You have to be very precise, nearly never to slide, the car does not slide at high speed because you have so much downforce.

"I'm happy with what I have achieved from rallying, I take more pleasure from driving a rally car than maybe driving in Formula One."

The manufacturers' championship remains open going into the final weekend, with Loeb's Citroen team on 175 points leading the Cumbria-based Ford team by 11 points.

And Loeb is keen to add the team prize to his fifth straight WRC title.

606: DEBATE

"This time we have to drive for the manufacturers' championship, and if we finish second then we will win that championship, so we will see," he added.

Conditions have plagued drivers ahead of the rally, which begins with a ceremonial start on Thursday, before its official start on Friday.

Ice and snow have made patches of the course very difficult to negotiate, with both Loeb and Welsh driver Gwyndaf Evans slipping off the road in pre-event reconnaissance.

Meanwhile, MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has targeted a top 10 finish from his second appearance in Rally GB with Stobart Ford.

Rossi, 29, made his British debut in 2002 but was forced out early on and admitted he is excited by his return to this year's event.

"My first target is to try to finish the race," he said.

"In New Zealand I arrived at 11th so we will try to improve on that result a little bit.

Rally driver loses his L-plates

"I'm also delighted to be supporting BBC Children in Need, which does such vital work in the UK.

"It's a great charity and one I'm very pleased to be involved in."

Teenage Welshman Tom Cave will be competing in his debut Rally GB, making history as the youngest ever competitor.

At 17 years and 18 days Cave will drive a Group N Ford Fiesta ST and confessed just being part of the rally will be a proud moment in his fledgling career.

"Ever since I can remember, it's been my dream to compete on the UK round of the WRC," he said.

"Some of my earliest memories are spectating on the event with my father, who was an avid fan and always took me to watch when he wasn't competing himself."

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see also
Wales Rally GB diary
04 Dec 08 |  Rallying
Loeb celebrates fifth world crown
02 Nov 08 |  Rallying
Loeb goes for title at Rally GB
29 Nov 07 |  Rallying
Jones eyes top 10 in Wales Rally
04 Dec 08 |  Rallying
Rally hopeful passes driving test
25 Nov 08 |  North west
Rossi set for Wales Rally drive
06 Nov 08 |  Rallying


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