Friday | 23 Oct 2015

SS3: Surprise package Kubica leads in Spain

Robert Kubica was the surprise leader of Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada after Friday morning’s opening two predominantly gravel stages.

Stage info: SS2 / 3

SS2: Móra d’Ebre - Ascó 1, 9.62km
Friday’s opener blends slippery gravel roads with short asphalt sections through a wind farm between the villages of Móra d’Ebre and Ascó. It starts with 500m of asphalt before climbing on a narrow gravel road to the mountain top. The track becomes wider at the start of a steep descent, with several stretches of asphalt leading to a fast finish. A new stage for 2015.

SS3: Caseres 1, 12.50km
Apart from a new opening 1.68km, this is last year’s Pesells stage. The new section is fast and narrow before an undulating road heads through a wind farm and on to a tricky hairpin just before the finish, where drivers must brake on gravel before turning left on dirty asphalt.

The Pole, fifth after last night’s curtain-raising test in Barcelona, was third through Móra d’Ebre – Ascó in his Ford Fiesta RS to climb to second. He then won Caseres to move into a 3.6sec lead over an equally impressive Mads Østberg.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Kubica though. “We had a few issues, it’s difficult to get a clean stage. The car was sliding and I’ve been locking all four wheels in braking. In low speed corners I struggled a lot,” he said.

Østberg tied with Hayden Paddon at the top of the timesheets in Móra d’Ebre – Ascó to climb from an overnight sixth into third, before gaining another place with second in Caseres.

“I pushed very hard at the beginning, but struggled a bit towards the end because I had two soft tyres on the back and they overheated, so I lost the rhythm,” said the Norwegian after SS3.

Paddon was second in Caseres to trail Kubica by 5.9sec overall in a Hyundai i20, with overnight leader Sébastien Ogier fourth in his Volkswagen Polo R.

Loose gravel made conditions slippery for the early starters who cleaned the tracks to the benefit of those further back. Road opener Ogier suffered most and said: “It’s a real challenge. I expected SS3 to be a bit better but it was still very slippery. I did my best and couldn’t have gone any better. I knew we would lose time.”

Ott Tänak and Dani Sordo were fourth and fifth in both tests to hold fifth and sixth overall.

The only driver to encounter problems was Italian Lorenzo Bertelli who rolled his Ford Fiesta RS into retirement just 2.8km into SS2.

More News