ERC Canaries: Robert Kubica tops shakedown
|By David Evans
||Thursday, March 21st 2013, 11:48 GMT
Citroen driver Robert Kubica has set the fastest time in this morning's Canaries Rally shakedown stage.
Kubica posted a time of 1m26.5s for the stage, with two-time event winner Jan Kopecky listed as six tenths of a second slower than the former grand prix winner.
The Polish driver tested his Citroen DS3 RRC in Gran Canaria on Monday and spent the morning finetuning the set-up of his car ahead of this evening's ceremonial start.
The Las Palmas-based event marks the former grand prix winner's return to international motorsport after he injured his right arm in a rally crash in February, 2011.
After his two-day pre-event test was cut to a morning after storms hit France last week, Kubica completed around 40 miles of running on Monday.
He spent more time in the car at shakedown, where he was reported to be just half a second off the pace of two-time Canaries winner Jan Kopecky.
Kubica's engineer Kevin Struyf said: "We are still discovering the car and the driving style for Robert. We made a good test on Monday and today we are making some set-up changes because this road is more like the road we find on the rally."
Struyf explained the way Kubica wanted his Citroen running for the Spanish island event, saying: "Robert wants absolutely no oversteer from the car.
"He is OK with understeer, but no oversteer because he lacks the confidence at the moment. We are making a neutral car for him.
"The feedback he is giving for the car and for the team is very, very good - this is what we expect because of his experience from the race track."
Recce one of the toughest
Peugeot driver Craig Breen, who arrived in Las Palmas just nine points adrift of the ERC lead after the opening two rounds, said the recce was incredibly challenging.
"[It] was very, very difficult," he said. "Generally speaking, the roads are quite wide and trying to pick a line through them is not easy.
"On most rallies you know exactly where the car should be and the pace notes are quite straightforward to explain that, but here the road is wide enough that there are options for the line.
"The most important thing is to come out of the corner with the highest possible exit speeds, but we're having to get more and more detail into the notes to make sure we're on that line and at the right speed."
Breen added that the weather conditions could provide another challenge when the competition begins tomorrow.
"We're going so high in some of the stages," he explained, "that we're running into the clouds. It's not fog, it's actually the cloud.
"We've been driving along on the recce and suddenly we hit a white wall and then around the next corner there is bright blue sky and sunshine. It's strange."
Breen was fourth fastest on this morning's shakedown stage.