Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran - Q&A
23 June 2013
Robert Kubica and co-driver, Maciek Baran reflect on their second WRC2 class win on Rally Italia Sardegna...
Robert, congratulations on your second win in WRC 2, which makes it two in a row! You made it look easy…
It has been definitely a difficult rally, first of all difficult stages, very narrow, very fast, and there were also rocks, it wasn't easy. There is one thing which we have to speak about and even if I won I believe we have to highlight it. I think it is too dangerous to let drivers drive with one-minute gaps in gravel rallies, especially that the visibility after 10 kilometres was bad in SS1 which is 30 kilometres long. I was 20 kilometres in the dust and it's just dangerous and there is no point to do it. I was very upset, okay the conditions are the same for everybody, but the starting order is not the same for everybody and if you are behind you are losing time. And it's very dangerous. The FIA normally does a great job for safety and what I have seen here was disappointing because it looks like nobody cares about drivers. And it's not only about drivers but it's also about the stages; we were 20 seconds behind Wiegand and we had people in the middle of the road because they were not expecting our car coming so close, and they could not see anything because they were in the dust. We have to do something, as unfortunately sooner or later something can happen and it is better to act before anything happens. And I want to highlight it because I think rallying is already a dangerous sport and if people are making it even more dangerous, then there is something wrong. I am honest; I decided that after yesterday if they were still using one-minute gaps I will not drive, I just don't come here. There is no point to risk yourself, the car and spectators. The price for winning is not the same for your life. It is very simple.
Do you feel your pace has improved even since the last event in Greece a couple of weeks ago?
It's still a long way to go. I came to Portugal for the first WRC rally in my life, for the first time in gravel after doing two days of test for 300 kilometres. And in Portugal we were a bit unlucky, we made a small mistake, but we had good pace, and definitely every day I am learning new things, maybe not quicker but safer and I have more control of the car and understand better the conditions. But for me, every rally is new so first I am discovering roads on the recce, and secondly I have to prepare good pace notes, which is not easy. And third of all I have to learn to drive consistently and learn many new things on gravel. Rallying is a complex sport and when you come for the first time, Portugal was in April, and it was my first ever WRC rally on gravel, and then we had Greece and here. Of course it looks nice but I know that from my point of view there is a long way to go and in order to achieve things I want to improve my pace. I realise that in rallying one needs to promote experience and I don't have any experience, so I have to drive as many rallies as I can in order to improve.
How do you feel your pace note development is coming along? Are you making many changes for the repeated stages?
Not really because first of all on gravel I find it very difficult, especially when the road is wide; when I do recce I prepare my pace notes and I have a vision of where I want to be and where to place my car, and what I discover is that all my visions are completely wrong, and all the other drivers have taken completely different lines. Often, especially on long corners, my pace notes are not perfect, especially on entry I have different visions but I have been all my life 100 percent a Tarmac driver and there are different rules on Tarmac. We are trying to do a good job of course but it is not easy, all of the WRC events are demanding for different reasons; Greece was demanding because it was very rough, Portugal was also demanding because it was almost always on the crests, and of course Finland will be the worst. Here in Sardinia the roads are very sandy and very slippery and very narrow so we have to drive fast but there is no room for mistake.
You said in Greece that you were not thinking about the Championship, in terms of the title. With two wins now under your belt is your feeling the same?
I spend the last two years recovering after the big injury. And sometimes I notice because of what I experienced, I see the things a bit differently, because I am not 100 percent fit and still a long way from where I would like to be. Already my decision of choosing the rally and not DTM might look a bit strange. First priority of this year was what will be the best for me to help me to recover as quickly as possible, and the best way I can do it. This is the reason I choose rallying. Second of all, what I can learn and what will give me the best option to improve as a driver. In order to become a complete driver I believe that rallying will give me extra bits, because of gravel, because of different characteristics. To be a rally driver you need different characteristics than circuit drivers and you cannot become a circuit driver in one day, and you cannot become a rally driver in one day, so it's a long and complex procedure and to be honest my approach was just to learn and it will always be like that this year. Whatever the result would be, how much I have learned, how much I improve my ability of driving and the ability of my arms behind the wheel, it is the most important for me.
Maciek, what were the difficulties this weekend from a co-driver perspective?
The most difficult thing was we spent many hours in the car after a five-hour sleep and today we have been 12 hours in the car. This rally is very compact and it is very tough for the crew to be all the time concentrated. And also for the co-driver, being in the dust can be very difficult.
You picked up one win a couple of weeks ago in Greece. How does this one compare?
Every rally is different. Of course when you win you can say you love this rally because it is a nice experience. I've never done this rally so it's new, but I think we did a good job and I am really happy because it is the first time we get points in the WRC, as we were in the ninth place [overall].
Questions from the floor
Q: Frédéric Billet (Echappement, France).
Robert, you said that gaining experience on gravel rallies takes time and at the same time rallying costs money. Are you confident that you will find some resources, or that you will be getting an official drive soon that will pay for that?
I think it's very difficult to get paid in rallies. If I would like to have some salary, I would have stayed in circuit racing as I am still quite a good name and I have a lot of experience and I think it will not be difficult for me to get well paid in circuit. But my situation is a bit more difficult and a bit more complex than it looks and I felt I needed a new challenge, because I was racing in the highest motorsport category in the world which is F1, which is not by a small margin, but F1 is well above all motorsport in the world by far away, so I needed to change something in order to have the same kind of challenge and this is why I chose rally. About the future, to be honest I don't know, but I would like to thank my big sponsors, without LOTOS it would not be possible, and Citroën is also helping me, my pocket is also helping me to invest from my side, and we will see what the future will bring. We will have to keep working and trying to find some good possibilities in case I decide to do rallying in the future. It is still a long way to go and to be honest I am not thinking about it.
Q: Claudio Pilia (Rally Emotion, Italy).
You ran just a few WRC rallies. What does the second victory in a row mean to you?
It doesn't mean a lot to be honest. What I have learned means a lot, only very big knowledge. I did only three events, but when you have zero experience those three events bring you, percentage-wise, a lot of experience. I think as a driver you can learn new things all your career. And definitely at the beginning you learn most of it. That's why my approach is to take every single day and every single rally. From experience comes lessons and knowledge; of course when you drive slow, you try to finish the rally you don't learn so much because you have to be close to the limit to see if the pace notes are right, in order to see how the car behaves, how the surface grip is changing, so you have to find the balance and this weekend we have done a good job. All the upcoming rallies will be new for me and again it will be very difficult and I will have to keep very calm, especially in Finland.