Wales Rally GB is well known for its tough stages and slippery conditions. These conditions catch out the best drivers in the world. And 3 of the top boys have been hit hard by the Rally.
On Day 2 of the rally, Ex F1 driver Robert Kubica, who is making his debut in a top World Rally car with Citroen this weekend, hit the stages hard, and the tress even harder. On the opening stage on Friday, the Pole went off the road, ending upside down.
Talking to WRC.com, Kubica said. “I misjudged the grip on the braking,” he told wrc.com. “I think I made a mistake not noticing the mud on the surface, and when I braked I just locked the front wheels. I tried to recover it with the handbrake but we ran out of road. It was quite steep and we ended upside down.
“It’s a shame because I was not really pushing, the surface change just caught me out. On the corner before there had been good grip but here, apparently, there was more mud under braking.”
Kubica’s car remained by the stage for most of the day, because its position made it too dangerous to recover while the WRC and national rallies were using the road. Citroen will assess the condition of the car when it is brought back to the team’s service area in Deeside before deciding whether or not Kubica can restart as a Rally 2 entry.
“There is no big damage I think, even though the car is three metres down. It was a soft half-roll and didn’t feel like a big crash,” said Kubica. “Hopefully I can return. It’s a shame because one small misjudgment and we ended up like this.”
Two stages on and another Citroen driver struck the forest even harder. Mikko Hirvonen rolled out of the rally on SS6. The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi team duo were placed fourth after Friday’s second stage, but crashed heavily near the end of the third, the 32km Myherin.
“Unfortunately, Jarmo made a small mistake this time,” Hirvonen told wrc.com. “It was a flat-right, tightens to fifth gear corner and he never finished the note, so I just kept sixth gear, flat out, and then it was too late. It was quite a big accident.”
The car slid wide, then flipped upside down before hitting a roadside bank windscreen first, which scooped masses of mud and debris into the cockpit. Fortunately neither driver was injured. “I had stones and mud thrown straight onto my face,” said Hirvonen. “The car is completely full of mud, I think there is more inside than there is outside.”
Lehtinen has co-driven Hirvonen since the pair made their WRC debut in 2002 and took full responsibility for the error.
“It was completely my mistake, I lost my words,” he said. “It was a long, long, flat right hander, tightening into something slower and I read the long right tightening but I never read the end – somehow. I didn’t manage to speak clearly enough so he missed the pace note. It was a big, big roll. I’m not feeling very satisfied at the moment.”
Kubica was able to re-star this morning (Saturday) But the damage on Hirvonen’s car was to great and he had to completely retire from the event.
A new day, a new challenge. And New drama.
Kubica is reported to have Rolled again on the opening stages of the rally, both are ok. On the following stage It was M-sports Evgeny Novikov who also crashed out of the rally while in a battle with mikkelsen and Ostberg.