Kubica to tackle ERC?

Kubica - from national events in 2012 to internationals in 2013?

Kubica – from national events in 2012 to internationals in 2013?

French magazine Auto Hebdo has run the story that former BMW and Renault F1 star Robert Kubica will contest the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.

Given the number of drivers that both M-Sport and Citroën is having to juggle between its cars on the WRC campaign, and the 28-year-old Pole’s habit of doing things in a proper manner, it would make a good deal of sense not to try and squeeze in to the mix in the rebooted WRC. The shorter format of ERC events will give him the opportunity to build up strength in his injured arm and experience of top-flight competition – in what will doubtless be a well-run and extremely pleasant atmosphere engendered in the service parks of the Eurosport series.

Elsewhere, it is understood that both M-Sport and Citroën have applied to the FIA for homologation of left-mounted gearshifts on its cars in order to allow more customers to compete in them. Kubica would prefer a left-mounted shift to reduce the strain on his injured right arm, but other drivers may also request the modification in future.

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Making Kubica comfortable

Robert_Kubica

Citroën and M-Sport both have gaps in their line-ups next year, when their third drivers are away contesting the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

At present the French marque has a rather convoluted schedule with Mikko Hirvonen driving all 13 events, Sébastien Loeb enjoying a ‘farewell tour’ of four events, Dani Sordo getting 11 events and Khalid Al Qassimi driving on eight events when his Middle East commitments permit. As yet there has been no word on the situation regarding the team’s ‘junior’ driver, Thierry Neuville, who has shown himself to be competent (if not earth-shattering) in his outings through 2012.

M-Sport has meanwhile signed Mads Østberg to lead its Fiesta squad, with Evgeny Novikov expected to be announced in the second car and Nasser Al-Attiyah driving a third car when he is neither defending the Middle East title or campaigning his Dakar buggy. This also leaves a vacant seat at several events at the beginning and end of the season. As yet there has been no word on the situation of Estonian youngster Ott Tänak, who failed to shine in M-Sport’s second-string outfit for most of the year but did perform strongly in the latter stages of the season.

Interestingly, both Citroën and M-Sport have reportedly contacted the FIA requesting homologation of a column-mounted gear shift on the left side of their left-hand-drive steering wheels. This is not a major modification, M-Sport was forced to do this 10 years ago when Colin McRae competed after breaking his finger on the 2002 Tour de Corse, but does need official sanction from the FIA.

It is understood that this modification would be required by former Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica if he is to compete on full WRC events of 3-4 days, to alleviate the strain on his damaged right arm. The Polish ace has demonstrated enormous pace at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC and Citroën C4 WRC since returning to competition in 2012 and has stated his ambition to compete ‘at the highest level’ in 2013, which would mean some modifications to existing machinery.

Citroën was left deeply impressed by Kubica’s outings in its ex-Loeb C4 WRC last month, but it is unlikely that there would be more than two or three rallies available to him in the third car entered under the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total banner. At M-Sport there are four or five events that could be contested in Nasser Al-Attiyah’s third car, with Juho Hänninen only down for two appearances at present in a fourth car.

Trending now: names with ‘u’ in them

Hot gossip today revolves around Kubica and Subaru. Fortunately, we found a photo of Kubica in a Subaru. Kinda symmetrical.

Rumour no.1: Robert Kubica will drive a MINI in the 2013 WRC

We say… why? He’s a magnet for sponsors and has a good relationship with Citroën. Why not run a DS3 RRC  in WRC2 for a year, get to grips on gravel and then think about the next step?

Rumur no.2: Subaru will not rejoin the WRC, but go to the WTCC

We say… well, this story has been run by Rallye Magazin in Germany with quotes attributed to a Subaru ‘source’. Put simply, Subaru doesn’t have a car in its current line-up to fit existing WRC regulations, and a move to R5 as the top class wouldn’t help. The WTCC seems like a waste of everyone’s time and effort, but if they’ve got to compete somewhere the FIA will surely welcome them back with open arms.

Yes, this is what success looks like…

Well it’s not often that a burnt-out car can be viewed as a symbol of success, unless you happen to be a rioter, but this husk of an ex-Loeb Citroën C4 WRC marks the rise of Robert Kubica’s international motor sport career like a phoenix from the flames (did you see what I did there?)

The absurdly talented Pole, still plagued with the legacy of injuries he suffered at the start 2011, took a whopping 80+ second lead from Freddy Loix’s Peugeot 307 WRC on the opening day of the Rallye du Var and built to a colossal 5 minute advantage of the the field before it all went a bit wrong. The result of Kubica’s prang was a written-off car with no damage to driver or co-driver – but a huge success in terms of how his skills and his comeback are being viewed at the top level of the sport.

Bravo, Robert – you deserve all the praise indeed.

Kubica wins in Como

Former Sauber and Renault Formula One driver Robert Kubica and co-driver Emmanuele Inglesi took victory on the 31st Rally di Como this weekend. As he continues his recovery from the dreadful injuries received at the start of 2011, Kubica set out on the event in a works-prepared Citroën C4 WRC. This was the Pole’s third rally win in as many months, having graduated from a 2007 Subaru Impreza. He’s back out again on the Rallye du Var next weekend… traditionally the best test for drivers wanting to take part in Monte Carlo.

Kubica to compete ‘full-time’ in 2013

Polish star of race track and rally stage, Robert Kubica, claims that he is ready for a return to full-time competition following the disastrous accident he suffered on the Ronde di Andora in February 2011, when his Škoda Fabia S2000 struck the end of a guard rail. The accident resulted in partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as significant loss of blood which has required long and painful rehabilitation from the moment that his life was out of danger.

Kubica’s passion for rallying left him brutally injured in 2011

Throughout that time, Kubica’s employers at the Lotus F1 Team have kept his seat available ready for his return. Kubica’s revocery has been protracted, and suffered setbacks including slipping on ice in the street and falling last winter, aggravating his injuries. Nevertheless, the man himself is confident and in September this year he made a return to competition by winning the Ronde Gomitolo Di Lana at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC.

After surviving a crash on the San Martino di Castrozza Rally without further injury, Kubica won again in last month’s Rally Citta di Bassano, and stated at the time that he would be ready to attempt a full season in competition through 2013. This week, Kubica announced that he will be contesting one more Italian event, the Rally di Como on 15-17 November, and will then head to France for the Rallye du Var a week later. In both of these events he will be entered by Citroën Racing in a 2010-specification C4 WRC.

Happy days are here again as Kubica’s recovery continues

Lotus has meanwhile soldiered on in Kubica’s absence: a miserable 2011 season led to the signing of 2007 F1 world champion and latterly WRC contestant Kimi Räikkönen on a one-year deal for 2012, delivering his best year’s racing in almost a decade. Kimi has re-signed for Lotus in 2013, while the second driver – Franco-Swiss hotshoe Sébastien Grosjean – has alternately shone and infuriated the team and the F1 paddock as a whole.

Grosjean’s position in the team is in the balance despite the patronage of team principal Eric Boullier, and it may well be that the team is seeking to honour its commitment to Kubica if he proves himself strong enough to cope with the g-forces entailed in hustling an F1 car about the place. If not for a full season, then for as many races as is prudent with an eye to supporting a title bid for Räikkönen and scoring constructors’ points, with Grosjean being offered a deal to drive whenever Kubica is unable to do so.

“At the moment I’m working on the possibility of a full season of starts in 2013 to the highest possible level,” Kubica recently said to Autosport.cz.

Räikkönen returned from WRC to win for Lotus F1

Interestingly he has also stated to Italian magazine Autosprint that he envisages the year ahead being split between circuit his two beloved disciplines: ‘I think of my future I see it 70 per cent on track and 30 per cent in rallying,’ he said.

With a pair of part-time drives available at the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team next year, Kubica’s 30 per cent season of rallying might well tie in nicely with the vacant seat in Khalid Al Qassimi’s DS3 WRC. The Rallye du Var is for many teams the ideal test session for January’s Monte Carlo Rally, in which Kubica could take part and get used to the hubbub of media attention before trying his hand at the wheel of a Formula One machine once again.

For one of the sport’s good guys, we can only hope that 2013 marks an enjoyable new beginning.