2012's big stories: Robert Kubica returns to action
|Thursday, December 27th 2012, 13:39 GMT|
The story of Robert Kubica's chances of reviving his motorsport career after his horrendous 2011 rally accident have captivated the racing world ever since the Pole began his rehabilitation.
Having faded from the headlines a little during 2012, Kubica suddenly burst back into the spotlight in the final third of the year when he returned to the rally stages in spectacular style.
As Christmas approached, he was on the cusp of confirming a remarkable international motorsport return in the revamped European Rally Championship - and he has still not closed the door on Formula 1 either...
Kubica's year did not begin well as a fall near his home in Italy reopened one of the leg fractures he had sustained in his original incident.
At the time, all the talk was of him making an F1 return with Ferrari, amid rumours of tests in old-spec cars being on the agenda. The Pole was regarded as one of the biggest threats to Felipe Massa's future - if he could prove his fitness.
With Kubica keeping a deliberately low profile, speculation filled the void. Was he facing up to the fact that he would never regain full strength in his injured arm? Had he been secretly testing single-seaters? Was it Kubica in the miscellaneous YouTube clips of blank rally cars testing on remote roads?
Whatever he was up to, it was clear F1 had not forgotten him...
Back in action
In September, motorsport got its answer, as Kubica cropped up on the entry list for two Italian rallies - both of which he won.
Then his return ramped up further when Citroen announced that he would drive one of its previous generation World Rally Championship winning C4s for Italy's Como event and the notoriously tough Var event in France.
Como became another win, but it was Var that made the biggest impression - even though a co-driver error caused Kubica to crash out. Prior to that, he had left established WRC and Intercontinental Rally Challenge ace Freddy Loix standing, and wowed Super 2000 WRC champion Craig Breen.
Citroen was certainly in no doubt about Kubica's ability on the stages, yet AUTOSPORT magazine revealed just before Christmas that his future destination was more likely to be M-Sport, with an adapted Ford Fiesta being prepared for an ERC challenge...