'Pretty positive' and 'a useful learning experience', is how Robert Kubica assessed his outing on Rally de Portugal last weekend.
The event was a step into the unknown for the former F1 winner, and in addition to being his first ever gravel rally, it was also his first run in the World Rally Championship.
Despite that he performed strongly on the opening day in his Citroen
DS3 RRC car and was second in the WRC2 class until two punctures prevented him from completing the leg and taking in the short Lisbon Super Special.
Kubica then rejoined the fold on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations, but was slowed by hydraulic issues that stopped him using the semi-automatic shift on the gearbox, and eventually forced him out again on the repeat loop in the afternoon.
The Pole returned though on Sunday and the final day went more smoothly, allowing the 28-year-old to rack up useful miles, and he eventually brought his car home in 19th place overall and sixth in the WRC2 class, scoring eight WRC2 points. All in all it was an impressive performance and while he had a few moments [see video below], he still set a number of good class times – including four top-two times and six top-three times.
“The last ten days spent in Portugal have been a very useful learning experience,” Kubica replied when asked about the event. “Overall, it has been pretty positive, although we have been a bit unlucky at times.
“For my first gravel rally, I think I have shown good pace on the stages where I didn't have any problems. I have found a lot of answers to the questions I had a few days ago.
"If we were to re-run the rally in a few weeks time, I'd obviously be better equipped. So that augurs well for the rest of the season.”
“The most important thing for me, however, is to manage to correlate what I see in recce with what happens in the race,” he added. “The course this weekend was very technically demanding, so that will be useful for the coming rallies. But I am already aware that none of the rallies will be easy.”
Kubica is now considering taking part in the SATA Rallye Acores later this month, the next round in the European Rally Championship, which is also on gravel and also in Portugal.
After that his next run in WRC2 is likely to be the Acropolis Rally of Greece, which runs from May 31st to June 2nd.