Following a sensational start to their 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, Robert Kubica and Maciej Szczepaniak are back behind the wheel of their RK M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the season’s traditional winter fixture – Rally Sweden.
Snow is an unfamiliar surface for the Formula One race winner, and if local forecasts are anything to go by, there will be plenty of it next week. Determined as always, the Pole will conduct a thorough two-day test as he gets to grips with the art of winter rallying, but his ultimate goal will be to gain the vital knowledge and experience which driving in this winter wonderland demands.
Based in the heart of Sweden’s rally-rich territory, crews have to contend with temperatures as low as -25°C which sees both man and machine pushed to the limit. To best cope with these conditions, the rally cars are clad with Michelin’s skinny winter tyres – the X-ICE NORTH 2 – which are each fitted with over 380 tungsten-tipped studs and cut through the soft snow to capture grip on the hard ice below. The Fiesta RS WRC is protected against the steel-tips and the crew benefit from the luxury of heated boots and a heated Fiesta so that they can be in peak condition when the time comes to power through the ice and snow.
Drivers can also ‘lean’ their cars against the compacted snow banks as a guide through the super-quick stages, but ‘lean’ too hard and they risk losing precious minutes having to dig themselves free of the white barriers.
Looking forward to the challenges ahead, Kubica will gain a wealth of experience as he contests his first full-snow rally – continuing his development and enhancing his skills as one of rallying’s most exciting up-and-coming talents.
Robert Kubica: "This is my first ever start on a full-snow event and my first participation at Rally Sweden. Honestly speaking, I don't know what to expect, but the snow-covered stages will certainly provide a new and exciting challenge.
“Given my unfamiliarity of the surface, we know that this will be a difficult event. Our priority is to concentrate on learning the new stages and conditions, but I am really looking forward to the rally and the new challenges that lay in wait.”
RK M-Sport World Rally Team