(6/1/2014) JUST days before Robert Kubica debuts as a regular driver in the elite class of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Polish ex-Formula 1 star has secured the biggest win of his short rally career.
Driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, Kubica won last weekend’s opening round of the European Rally Championship, the Jännerrallye, in wintry conditions in Austria.
Next week he is among entrants for the historic Rallye Monte-Carlo, round one of the 2014 WRC and his first even t in a full-spec Fiesta World Rally Car.
Kubica won the WRC2 title in a Citroen DS3 in 2013, his first full season in WRC. He finished the year with a one-off drive in a Citroen DS3 WRC in Wales, but then decided to switch to a full Ford program, including Rally Australia, for 2014.
His Austrian win came down to a thrilling final-stage decider on Sunday.
He started the closing 25-kilometre stage trailing Václav Pech by 11.8 seconds but a stunning performance, coupled with an inspired tyre choice, enabled him to power to victory.
Co-driven by Maciej Szczepaniak for the first time, Kubica was fastest in the fog and dark by 23.0s to secure top spot over Pech by 19.9s.
Kubica’s winning margin could have been even bigger but for a puncture on day one and a 10-second penalty for a jumped start on Sunday morning. He earned the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, which was presented by two-time world rally champion Marcus Grönholm.
“For sure it’s very nice to be here as a winner but our priority was to get as much experience and information from this rally in order to prepare for Monte-Carlo,” Kubica said.
“I did participate on four ERC events last year but I was often unlucky and made few mistakes as I was using the rallies for training. I was a bit more lucky this time, but the conditions were very difficult and for sure this was one of the toughest weekends of my motorsport career.”