Competing in a gravel rally for the first time, not to mention a round of the World Championship, Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran experienced the full range of feelings during the weekend.
They ultimately came away pleased to have shown some real potential on the WRC’s main surface. The Citroën DS3 RRC crew also scored their first points in the WRC2 standings.
Once the rally itself got underway, the Polish driver first had to learn how to decipher these many difficulties: “Without experience, it is difficult to judge how a crest is going to affect the handling of the car at full speed from what you see in recce.
There are so many jumps here that you can’t take it easy without losing two or three seconds per kilometre! I noticed a big improvement on the second runs and I was surprised to set such good times. Unfortunately, the two punctures we picked up on Friday prevented us from completing the leg.”
After rejoining under Rally2 rules on Saturday, Robert then had to deal with some technical problems, which prevented him from using the semi-automatic shift on the gearbox.
The final day went more according to plan, enabling the Krakow driver to rack up the miles, particularly completing two runs on the 52km-long Almodovar stage.
Robert Kubica ended the rally in sixth place in the WRC2, which meant he collected his first points in the category. “The last ten days spent in Portugal have been a very useful learning experience,” he concluded. “Overall, it has been pretty positive, although we have been a bit unlucky at times.
For my first gravel rally, I think I have shown good pace on the stages where I didn’t have any problems. I have found a lot of answers to the questions I had a few days ago. If we were to rerun the rally in a few weeks time, I’d obviously be better equipped. So that augurs well for the rest of the season.”
With this experience under his belt, Robert is nonetheless aware that he’ll need to keep learning in his next few rallies: “The most important thing for me is to manage to correlate what I see in recce with what happens in the race.
The course this weekend was very technically demanding, so that will be useful for the coming rallies. But I am already aware that none of the rallies will be easy…”
After this first outing in the WRC2, Robert may opt to enter the next round of the European Rally Championship: We are going to look at taking part in the Rallye Açores, which is also on gravel. My next WRC2 event will very probably be the Acropolis Rally.”