The luck was not on the Pole’s side this weekend.
Rally Poland was always going to be a special event for RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica, but luck was not on the Pole’s side this weekend. The Formula One race winner may have finished outside of the points, but his finishing position did not reflect his speed and he was encouraged by another strong performance on gravel.
The rally started well with a third fastest time over the opening speed test, but a roll on SS2 relegated him down the order. With the support of the Polish fans, Robert forfeited just 25 seconds and lost none of his confidence – starting the second day as he meant to go on with another top-three time through the first pass of Wieliczki (SS4).
Unfortunately, it was not to be and Saturday’s action became a story of misfortune. Carrying one spare tyre, the Pole suffered two punctures through the morning loop and it was touch and go whether he would make it through the final stage (SS15). Thanks to the determination of the Fiesta driver and the strength of Michelin’s LATITUDE Cross tyre, he made it through the stage and back to base with the delaminated tyre.
But his hard work was undone on SS17 when an unsighted rock damaged the suspension of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The impact also started a small fire as a broken damper dripped oil onto the brake disc and Robert was forced to accept Rally 2 regulations for the final day.
Embarking on the final day of competition, his misfortune continued. When the team discovered an issue with the alternator he was late out of service and had to accept an additional two minute and 20 second time penalty.
Despite his troubles, Robert can take a number of positives from this weekend. He showed good speed and has gained some vital knowledge when it comes to competing on high-speed gravel.
This weekend’s experience sees the 29-year-old well placed to make further improvements when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to the sport’s spiritual home at next month’s Rally Finland.
Robert Kubica (20th): “It hasn’t been the luckiest of rallies for us, but there are still some positives to take away from the weekend. Other than our small mistake I think we have been driving well and it was great to see so many fans out on the stages. We have to look on the positive side and there are many positives to take from this event.
“It puts us in a good position ahead of the next event. Finland is a very particular event and I think after this rally the speed of the stages will not come as such a big surprise. Of course the character is very different with a lot more corners over crests, but the speed range is quite similar.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE: “It’s been another tricky event for Robert [Kubica], but he has shown good speed and when everything is going right he seems to be enjoying the fast gravel stages. Hopefully this weekend will see him better prepared for Finland.”
RK M-Sport World Rally Team