World champion Sebastian Loeb topped the timesheets in qualifying for the season-ending Spanish Rally.

Citroen star Loeb, who has captured the FIA World Rally Championship for the ninth time, showed he still had the hunger to claim victory in Barcelona this weekend by completing the 2.94 kilometre circuit in 2mins 6.118 seconds.

As a result, Loeb will get to pick his starting spot in tomorrow's first stage - which will take place primarily on gravel.

"It's not the easy choice and we have to think about the asphalt as well" - Sebastian Loeb

Next up was Evgeny Novikov, who took his Ford Fiesta round 0.146secs slower than Loeb, while Mikko Hirvonen claimed third place 0.310secs back on team-mate Loeb.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala finished qualification in fourth place, 0.518s off the lead, with Fiesta driver Petter Solberg rounding out the top five.

Dani Sordo was the top-ranked Spaniard, placing seventh in his home event.

Loeb admitted he has left himself with a dilemma in the morning as he ponders his starting options.

"I was thinking this morning that it wouldn't make such a difference if I was the first, second or third or fourth to pick my place [on the road]," Loeb told

"When I think to the first day and where I will run on the road, we have to remember that even if the rain doesn't come, the road this morning was damp. It's not the easy choice and we have to think about the asphalt as well.

"This is not straightforward: Jari-Matti [Latvala] and Mikko [Hirvonen] both have very strong pace for this rally and we have to be wary of them."

Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena will be presented with a trophy by RACC president Sebastian Salvado tomorrow in recognition of their seven victories at the event.