Misfortune strikes for Kubica in Portugal
"We made a mistake coming out of a right-left-right turn sequence"
RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica and Maciej Szczepaniak suffered cruel misfortune on the first full day of competition at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal today. Caught out by the technically challenging stages, the Poles were forced to retire their Ford Fiesta RS WRC through the first pass of Almodovar (SS4).
In what has been one of the most demanding recces the FIA World Rally Championship has seen for several years, crews had to contend with treacherous conditions as they made their notes for the upcoming event. Torrential rain saw sections of the stages transformed into fast flowing rivers – making the production of accurate pacenotes, on an event that demands perfection, an exceptionally difficult task.
The Pole made a consistent start to his rally. Setting a string of top-ten stage times and keeping in touch with the leaders, Kubica was running in eighth place overall – just over 20 seconds adrift of the lead. But as the Algarve sun showed its face for the first full day of rallying, experience proved pivotal.
Those with limited knowledge of the stages found themselves at a disadvantage as they ventured into the unknown. Unsighted rocks and unpredictable grip levels were the order of the day and, unfortunately for Robert and Maciej, they became one of the stages’ numerous victims.
Clipping a tree some 10km from the end of SS4, the Poles damaged the suspension of their Fiesta and were forced to bring their day to an untimely end.
Thanks to the expertise of the M-Sport’s experienced team of mechanics, Kubica will be back under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.
Robert Kubica (62nd) said:
“My day began very nicely – I was driving cautiously and was taking no risks. I had zero moments before we came to SS4, but then we made a mistake coming out of a right-left-right turn sequence.
“I noticed that the experienced WRC drivers cut the turns more than I thought was possible on the recce, so I followed those lines. At the end of the right turn we hit the limb of a tree. I was very surprised. I saw a tree there but I was sure it was far from the edge of the road, and when I realised that it was growing at a very steep angle, it was too late and that’s why we hit the bottom of it.
“The right-hand-side of the car went up and we hit something with the left-front and destroyed the suspension. I am very upset because for the first time I really had a lot of fun driving on gravel. Even though I was taking it easy, the confidence was good. I was really looking forward to the second loop, but unfortunately our day had to end in unfortunate circumstances. I hope for better luck tomorrow.”
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