A valuable learning experience for Robert Kubica

"We braked a little bit late on a right-hand bend"

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By Olivier Ferret

24 March 2013 - 06:49
A valuable learning experience for (...)

After making the perfect start to the rally in winning eight of the first nine stages, Robert Kubica and his co-driver Maciek Baran went off on the tenth stage of Rally Islas Canarias, the third round of the European Rally Championship.

Despite their retirement, the performance of the Polish crew this weekend in the DS3 RRC made a very strong impression and promises a very closely contested season.

Held on 246 kilometres of fast, smooth tarmac roads, the Spanish event appeared, at first glance, to be the ideal race for the Polish track racer. It would, however, prove to be a difficult and testing rally. Changeable weather meant race conditions included fog, rain and sunshine, which made things more complicated for competitors. This was especially as regard tyre choice, with four different types of compound available in the range provided by Michelin. The testing conditions didn‘t prevent the crew from producing a stunning performance throughout the first leg, winning all of the stages contested. After Friday’s stages, Robert dominated the race, over a minute ahead of his nearest challenger.
The weather was milder on Saturday. Robert started the day more cautiously, taking the second fastest time on “Maspalomas”, 1.1 seconds behind Jan Kopecky. On the tenth stage, the DS3 RRC clipped a barrier, damaging first the rear left wheel and then the front of the car, leaving the leaders with no option but to retire.

“We were on a quick downhill section, about five kilometres from the end of the stage, when we braked a little bit late on a right-hand bend”, explained Robert. “We lost the rear of the car and we hit the safety barrier. The rear left was the first to hit the barrier. The impact spun us around and we couldn’t regain control of the car which then hit the same barrier on the front left-hand side of the car, and this time the damage was more significant. Of course, I’m disappointed, we had a perfect first day and today, we have crashed out of the rally. I only have myself to blame. I have to try and learn the lessons for the next time. My focus is now on Rally de Portugal, which is due to start in two weeks time.”

“Robert has put in a great performance this weekend and has shown that he has real potential on tarmac”, added Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “He came here mainly to acquire experience. He wasted no time at all in getting to grips with the DS3 RRC and establishing himself as the leader. He now has to learn about an aspect of rallying which is different to what he knows from track racing, i.e. being able to adjust your pace when driving on stages for the first time. Once he has taken this element on board, he is going to be one of the most formidable drivers in his category.”

Robert Kubica will be back racing in a DS3 RRC for the WRC2 at Rally de Portugal on 12-14 April. Another step up for the Polish driver, who will be making his rallying debut at world level.

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