Tue 18 Jan 2022

Remembering when… Kubica went from winning in the ERC to winning in the WRC

For a standout 10-day period in 2014 Robert Kubica was on top of Europe and, for two stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo, on top of the world.

On January 5 of that year, Kubica produced a sensational charge to win round one of the FIA European Rally Championship, the 31st Internationale Jänner Rallye in Austria.

Less than two weeks later and the Pole led Sébastien Ogier on the FIA World Rally Championship opener by an incredible 36.8s after two stages peppered with snow and ice.

Although Kubica’s lead wasn’t to last and he would end up crashing his Ford Fiesta WRC into retirement, the Formula One grand prix winner had made a huge impact, nevertheless.

But a performance every bit as sensational came on the closing 25.00-kilometre stage of the Jänner Rallye, which the M-Sport driver started 11.8s behind Václav Pech. However, a stunning performance, coupled with an inspired tyre choice, enabled him to power to victory in the stunning countryside of Upper Austria.

While Pech – who selected slick tyres for his MINI John Cooper Works S2000 – struggled for grip on the mud and rain-hit final test, Kubica opted for a combination of studded and winter MICHELIN tyres fitted in a diagonal formation, which proved ideal for the demanding conditions.

Co-driven in his LOTOS-backed Ford Fiesta RRC 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 and top the inaugural ERC Ice Master standings after he set eight fastest stage times.

Kubica’s efforts emulated Jan Kopecký’s victory of 2013 when the Czech reversed a deficit of 10.6s after the penultimate stage to claim first place. And his winning margin could have been even higher but for a puncture on day one and a 10-second penalty for a jumped start on the final morning.

“For sure it’s very nice to do be here as a winner,” said Kubica at the time. “I did participate on four ERC events [in 2013] but I was often unlucky and made [a] 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.”

Kubica earned the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy for his achievements, which was presented by two-time world rally champion Marcus Grönholm, who was in Austria working as an expert TV commentator for Eurosport.

While Rallye Monte-Carlo is gearing up to host the WRC season opener from January 20-23, the 2022 ERC season is set to get underway on Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras in Portugal from March 11-13.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM