The former Formula 1 driver is making his gravel rally debut this weekend, contesting the WRC-2 class at the wheel of a four-wheel drive Citroen DS3 RRC.
He was placed second in the WRC-2 standings but after one punctured and two damaged tyres on the first four stages, and with only one spare tyre in his car, the Pole wasn’t able to complete the 206-kilometre drive to the Super Special in the Portuguese capital.
Kubica was forced to admit defeat 50 kilometres into the journey and parked his car in a motorway service area. It is not yet known if he will restart on Saturday.
Punctures aside, Kubica’s debut had been an impressive one. He was fourth quickest though Friday's opening test and went third fastest on the next despite sliding wide into a ditch, damaging a front tyre and holing his car’s radiator on a branch.
Kubica and co-driver Maciek Baran were able to seal the leaking radiator using repair putty carried on board before topping up the system with water from their drinking bottles.
Kubica was second quickest on stage three and again on four, but at the expense of another two damaged tyres.
His performance on the four gravel stages drew praise from the head of Citroen Racing, Yves Matton.
“For me he did a great performance today,” said Matton. “Despite no experience on gravel apart from two test days he was placed between Esapekka Lappi and Elfyn Evans – two young drivers who are being followed by manufacturers for the future.”
Matton watched Kubica on all four gravel stages and was impressed with his approach. “His style is good – it’s very similar to the top drivers. He’s trying to drive where the grip is the best,” he said.
“Driving with a sideways style is a little bit easier on the gravel and would give him more security, but we explained that the best way to be fast is to keep on the line and try to keep the wheels where there is most traction. That’s what he’s doing and that’s very impressive.”
“For sure he had some punctures this morning but it’s something you have to learn,” he added.