WRC veterans Richard Burns and Colin McRae predict that Peugeot ashalt-specialist Gilles Panizzi and young Citroën star Sébastien Loeb will be frontrunners at this weekend's Rally of Germany.

WRC veterans Richard Burns and Colin McRae predict that Peugeot ashalt-specialist Gilles Panizzi and young Citroën star Sébastien Loeb will be frontrunners at this weekend's Rally of Germany.


Burns, the current world rally championship log leader, recently said that Panizzi would be one of the strongest contenders for victory in Germany, despite his rib-breaking test accident at the beginning of the month and his lack of experience of the terrain.


Panizzi broke a rib during a testing accident last month and also missed the Rally of Germany last year due to injury, so his knowledge of the stages is confined to the 2001 recce and this year's test.


"I'm sure Gilles will be fine. I know he might be in a bit of pain, but we've seen him in pain on a tarmac rally last year and he seemed to do alright, so he'll be OK," Burns said.


But McRae disagrees with Burns, and claims his Citroën team-mate will be the driver to beat. The French star won the event last year after an intense duel with Burns, and underlined his tarmac expertise by romping to victory on the Monte Carlo Rally in January.


Asked to pick out a rival, McRae said: "It's going to be Sébastien. He's had a bit of an unlucky run this year and I think he'll be out to prove his two wins weren't luck."


But the Scot believes he has a real shot at winning after a satisfying two-day test in Germany: "This is probably the best chance I've had in a long time to win a tarmac event. The car feels nice and easy and light, and holds its line well."