RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica witnessed a day of highs and lows today as Rally Mexico resumed in the hills north of Guanajuato. Despite running as high as fourth overall, a roll on the penultimate super special put paid to his efforts – relegating the popular Pole to ninth position.
A challenging event for any newcomer, Rally Mexico’s technical stages may appear smooth and hazard-free, but the gravel tracks hide a number of perils. Making it through all but two of the stages unscathed, the Pole was on course for a fantastic result on what is his first long-haul event and only his third rally behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The day did not start without its dramas – the high temperatures resulting in a gearshift issue through the first pass of ‘El Chocolate’. Having to change gear manually, the 44.03 kilometre stage became a real test. Having to keep one hand on the gear-lever at all times, his sixth fastest time was an impressive feat and testament to both his physical and mental strength.
With the M-Sport team rectifying the issue for the afternoon loop, Kubica was free to up his pace without restraint. Growing in confidence, the Formula One race winner was on course for an impressive fourth place – challenging the front-runners with a string of competitive times including a third fastest time through the second pass of ‘Parque Gto Bicentenario’ (SS9).
Unfortunately, the final drama was yet to come and Kubica’s hard work was to be undone through the final super specials. Clipping a concrete bollard in SS10, his Fiesta was forced into a roll, and its driver ultimately forced to accept Rally 2 regulations for the remainder of the rally.
Yet with more than 60 per cent of the event left to run, there remains all to play for and Kubica will come back strongly – determined to make the most of another new challenge.
Robert Kubica (9th) said:
“I was really happy with our driving and we were on course for a really strong result so it is very disappointing that the day had to finish the way that it did.
“We weren’t taking any big risks. We had found a rhythm that we were comfortable with and the plan was to continue like that. We were learning a lot and improving the pace, so it is really disappointing that the day ended as it did.
“Of course there is still a long way to go. Our goal is to gain as much knowledge and experience as we can, and that is what we shall continue to do tomorrow.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Up until the final couple of stages, we saw a really strong performance from Robert [Kubica]. It was hugely disappointing for him that the day had to end the way that it did, as he was on course for what would have been a fantastic result on his first visit to Mexico.”