Kubica teams up with Hirvonen and Sordo

At the Wales Rally GB

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By Olivier Ferret

8 November 2013 - 18:16
Kubica teams up with Hirvonen and (...)

After a brief flirt with Spain last year, the World Rally Championship’s season-ending finale returns to its traditional home in Wales. With both titles wrapped up, all the competitors can go for it no holds barred, starting with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews. For Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen and Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio, the end result will be the only target. Competing for the first time in the DS3 WRC of the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT, Robert Kubica and Michele Ferrara will undoubtedly be the main attraction at this, the thirteenth and final round of the season.

Leaving behind its home for the last few years, in Cardiff and then Builth Wells, Wales Rally GB heads to the north of the country this year. Now based in Deeside, not far from Liverpool, the British event boasts a new course for 2013, combining stages used in recent years with tests that have not featured in the rally since the 1990s.

Drivers will need to show considerable staying power and look after their machines in the Welsh forests, because service periods have been cut to a bare minimum this year. Given the fact that the weather can be terrible at this time of the year, this rally has all the ingredients necessary to serve up a very special motorsport event!

Having competed in Wales ten times already, winning here in 2007, Mikko Hirvonen is one the event’s leading specialists. Currently fourth in the Drivers’ World Championship standings, Mikko can end the year in the top three provided he finishes among the leaders next weekend.

“After finishing on the podium five times this season, obviously I’d love to end the season with a win,” confirmed the Finn. “It’s a difficult rally, but I like the stages’ extremely fast roads. It’s exhilarating for drivers, although you have to be careful to keep out of trouble. At this time of year, we may well get the worst of the weather conditions, with fog and rain, and maybe even frost first thing in the morning. That can make braking of any kind pretty tricky, so you have to respect the course.”

Currently fifth in the overall standings, Dani Sordo is also keen to finish the season on a high: “Obviously, this isn’t my favourite surface. I like gravel, but more so when the grip is consistent. In Wales, we’re often faced with a racing line that is covered in mud! But I’m not going to get too worried about it; my goal is just to try and achieve the best possible result. I proved once again in Spain that I could deal with slippery conditions. As is the case on all of the gravel rounds, you have to be on the pace from the word go on the qualifying stage in order to be able to choose a good starting position for the first leg.”

After winning five rounds this year, Robert Kubica secured the WRC2 title at the Rally de España. As a reward for his performances – which have been impressive on his debut season in international rallying – the Pole has been promoted to the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team. He will be competing in the no.10 DS3 WRC and will be looking to continue learning about the sport at this level.

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