Inside the Repco Rally Command Centre at Mantra.
Inside the Repco Rally Command Centre at Mantra. Crystal Spencer/Tweed Daily News

Drivers start arriving

REIGNING World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb made it clear yesterday - he is here to race.

The Citroen Total World Rally Team member and several other international racers contending the World Rally Championship touched down at Gold Coast Airport yesterday ahead of this week's Repco Rally Australia, the 10th round in the competition.

“I'm here to race, no holiday for me,” Loeb told waiting media yesterday.

Other racers including Henning Solberg from Stobart VK M-Sport Rally Team, Khalid Al Qassimi from BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and Dani Sordo from the Citroen team shared the midday Virgin Blue flight from Sydney with Loeb.

The Tweed's track will test Loeb, who is currently three points behind the number one position held by Finnish racer Mikko Hitvoen.

“I'm in a confident mood and can't wait to get in the car and hopefully continue the great run of form I've had recently in the championship,” Hitvoen said.

Hitvoen's team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team, is currently fourth in the competition; a win could propel him into the top three.

“It's not lost for me yet. There are three more races including this one to go. I'm only 13 points behind third place,” Latvala said.

Latvala said it was nice to be back in the region.

“I came here on a holiday three years ago. It's a beautiful place,” he said.

Racers will spend today and tomorrow checking out the new stages of the rally for the first and only time before Thursday's start.

Loeb's team-mate and Spanish driver Dani Sordo also had his eye on the prize.

“There's no time for holidays. Repco Rally Australia will be a bigger challenge for everyone since it is all new,” Sordo said.

“I'm a big fan of Australia and am looking forward to the action this week.”

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