Given his speed so far this season and the location of the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, there’s one man definitely worth watching at Lotos 71st Rally Poland: local hero Robert Kubica.
Here’s three reasons why we think the Pole could set the gravel stages alight:
Kubica’s race-winning exploits in Formula One made him a national motorsport hero in his homeland. He may not be driving in F1 anymore, but the Polish fans still worship the ground that he walks on. A bumper crowd is guaranteed on the Masurian stages and there will be plenty of red and white flags flapping in the breeze with Kubica’s name proudly emblazoned cross them. That level of support will mean a lot to Kubica and it could drive the reigning WRC 2 champion towards the podium places.
The last event in Sardinia was a watershed moment for Kubica. It was a rally where almost everything went right for the 29-year-old as he mastered the notoriously tricky conditions and steered his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta RS WRC into fifth place on Saturday. Okay, he eventually finished eighth after breaking his car’s suspension on a rock, but he’d already turned a corner by that point. He later admitted that Sardinia was the first gravel rally he’d ever enjoyed because it marked the first time he’d driven on loose surface roads smoothly and with confidence. That could count for a lot.
Ever since he arrived at M-Sport’s headquarters earlier this season, Kubica has impressed everyone in the British team with his meticulous attention to detail and desire to succeed. Given the weight of expectation on Kubica’s shoulders heading into his home event, he’s already declared that he won’t be available for potentially-distracting interviews when M-Sport holds its pre-rally media event on Wednesday. On that evidence, it’s fair to say Kubica’s already in ‘the zone’.