{Drivers Backing the Rally } {Leading Drivers Back the Rally}

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Byline: STEVE SPINKS steve.spinks@northernstar.com.au

A TRIO of rally drivers including five-time world champion Sebastien Loeb have thrown their support behind the upcoming Repco Rally Australia and defended the sport's environmental credentials.

Speaking moments before the start of the Rally of Poland on Thursday night via telephone, Frenchman Loeb, Fin Jari-Matti Latvala and Norwegian Petter Solberg said they were looking forward to competing in the Australian event in the Tweed and Kyogle shires from September 3 to 6 .

"I'm looking forward to Australia, for sure," Loeb told The Northern Star.

"It's hard at the moment because I don't know much about the rally location but Australia is a nice place and I didn't see much when I went to Perth three years ago.

"I don't know a lot about what the rally will be like but I hear it's similar to New Zealand, very fast."

When asked to talk about the environmental aspects of the sport, which has been a heated talking point for local rally opponents, Loeb vaulted the issue, like the great former gymnast he is.

"I don't really know about that. I'm a driver and I just do my job," he said.

However, Latvala, who is running fourth in the drivers' championship, said environmental issues were taken seriously by all teams and drivers.

"We think of the environment as well all the time and you're always thinking as a driver of the better options," he said.

"In the next couple of years I think there could be changes in fuel."

Latvala said he holds high hopes of high performance cars introducing bio-fuel, while there is also the possibility of diesel-powered cars.

Solberg, the 2003 world champion, put the responsibilities of the teams in perspective.

"The main thing is everybody does the best you can and have a thought behind everything you do," he said. …