Robert Kubica made an instant impact on his FIA European Rally Championship debut on Thursday by going fastest in shakedown for Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles.
Driving a Citroen DS3 RRC, Kubica set a fastest time of 1 minute 25.6 seconds over the 2.5-kilometre stage between the towns of Marzagan and El Sabinal. The Pole was 0.6s quicker than Skoda Motorsport driver Jan Kopecky and local hero Luis Monzon, who are both double winners of the event and among the contenders for victory when the rally gets underway with the first of 14 stages on Friday morning.
“Shakedown doesn't matter but it was important to get some time in the car and have some more information following our short test here on Monday,” said the former F1 star. “We need to work quite a lot still but generally everything has been good for us so far.”
Asked whether he felt more confident following shakedown, which enabled his Citroen engineers to finalise the set-up of his car, Kubica added: “I would lie if I say yes. We are losing downforce so we have to keep working with the set-up so I am confident with the car and really show what the car will do. They are fast stages with some very narrow parts and there is no margin for a mistake.
“But for each rally I come to for the first time it's going to be a shock because experience is very, very important in rallying and when you are on the stages for the first time it's a very difficult and big challenge.”
Craig Breen was the fastest Peugeot driver in fourth, one place ahead of team-mate Jeremi Ancian. Daniel Oliveira completed the top six in his Ford Fiesta RRC.