Kubica: It was a good win
"Evans gave us a lot of problems"
Playing their part in Citroën Racing’s dominant performance at this year’s Rallye Deutschland, Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran took their third WRC2 win. This first win on tarmac means that the DS3 RRC crew now lead the championship standings.
The first rally this season to be held exclusively on tarmac roads, Rallye Deutschland provided Robert Kubica with yet another challenge. Winner in Greece and Sardinia, and then runner-up in Finland, the Pole hoped to maintain his rich vein of form on his first appearance at this rally.
The rally got underway on Thursday afternoon in Cologne. On the roads leading the crews to Trier, two stages enabled an initial pecking order to be established. Robert Kubica set the fastest time on both stages to take the early lead in the category, around fifteen seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans. ”It wasn’t easy. I wasn’t expecting conditions to be like this,” played down the DS3 RRC driver. “It was pretty cold and I was struggling to keep the tyres at temperature, so the car was sliding around a lot.”
The rally stayed in the Trier region the next day, the stages held on roads winding through the Mosel vineyards. Hampered by problems with the handbrake throughout the entire first loop, Robert Kubica was occasionally forced to put the car into reverse to get around the tightest hairpins. He still managed to hold onto the lead by a few seconds. The Pole managed to win three stages in the afternoon, despite having to deal with further incidents: “On SS6, we damaged the spoiler and broke the rear window in a compression. We repaired it before the next stage, but we forgot to fasten the boot properly and drove the next stage with it flapping open. SS8 went okay, with no problems!”
The setting changed completely for day three, as the vineyards were replaced by the countryside roads of the Rhine region and the tarmac of the Baumholder military base. The day was dominated by a thrilling head-to-head battle between Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans for the WRC2 class lead, which changed hands on no fewer than four occasions! Despite heavy rain making for worsening conditions, the Citroën driver had the final word and drove into parc fermé with a… 7.8s lead.
Only two stages were left on Sunday to separate the two rivals. Robert produced a superb effort on Dhrontal 1, enabling him to extend his lead to around ten seconds. The final stage did not go quite according to plan, however: “We heard some noise from the transmission and I was worried that we had broken something! But fortunately we’re here and all is good. I’m pleased with the result, especially as we have finished fifth overall. It was a good win, because Evans gave us a lot of problems. We’re now leading the championship, but my main goal is to keep learning at each rally. Experience is the key in WRC and every stage gives me the chance to improve.”
With five rallies under his belt, the DS3 RRC driver therefore holds an eight-point lead over Al Kuwari, who has the same number of results. “Robert continues his programme of accelerated learning. He had a great race. Although he was constantly under pressure, he was able to manage his form. He is now very well placed to win the championship,” emphasized Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal.
As they aren’t competing at Rally Australia, Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran’s next event will be Rally Poland (ERC), due to take place on 13-15 September. They will be back in action in the WRC at the Rallye de France (3-6 October).
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