Sat 08 Apr 2023

Remembering when ERC rookie Kubica was King of Canarias

Robert Kubica was the driver to beat on the opening leg of Rally Islas Canarias (22 March 2013) as the Formula One race winner made an instant impact on his FIA European Rally Championship debut.

Pole Kubica, who had never previously driven on Gran Canaria’s demanding asphalt roads, set the pace aboard his Citroën DS3 RRC on all eight stages of day one as unfamiliar weather increased the challenge facing the ERC regulars contesting the third round of the season.

The bright sunshine and warm ambient temperatures experienced for much of the week had given way to rain and fog by the time the 13.57km Moya stage got underway just before 08h00 local time.

While the bulk of his rivals chose Michelin’s medium-compound tyre, Kubica opted to fit four soft-compound covers. The choice proved ideal for the damp tests located to the west of the event’s Las Palmas base as Kubica moved into a lead he was able to extend throughout the day, despite his lack of rallying experience. His only major cause for concern came on Friday’s final test, Ingenio, when he nudged a brick wall.

“It’s been a good day,” the then 28-year-old said. “In the last stage there was a tight junction. I pulled the handbrake and touched with the rear a house. I had to reverse and lost 10 or 12 seconds. But it’s been a nice day, perfect testing in different weather conditions. Now we just need to continue running at our pace and keep calm.”

Kubica’s challenge for Rally Islas Canarias glory wasn’t to last, however, as he retired from top spot after striking a barrier on a right-hand bend approximately five kilometres from the finish of leg two’s second stage.

“We were in a high-speed downhill section,” Kubica explained. “It was quite big braking into a third-gear corner. Unfortunately, when I hit the brakes, I lost the rear of the car and I had to reduce the pressure [on the brakes], otherwise I would spin and the road was very narrow. I tried to do the corner, but I didn’t reduce enough speed and I hit the barrier with the rear-left corner. Then with the front we dived into the barrier. It’s a shame but unfortunately this can happen.”

But Kubica didn’t leave Gran Canaria empty handed after his impressive performance earned him the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. “Of course, Colin was a great driver and I have been supporting him when I was young,” Kubica said. “Normally winners are only at the finish, but this trophy gives us a bit of satisfaction after this hard end and Colin is always in our hearts. Yesterday was a very positive day for us with a lot of positive experience. Unfortunately, today was a negative experience but it’s part of driving.”

With Kubica out, Jan Kopecký made it three Rally Islas Canarias victories with ease ahead of Craig Breen and local hero Luis Monzón.

Rally Islas Canarias is gearing up to host round two of the 2023 ERC season from 6 - 8 May.

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