Azores ERC: Robert Kubica takes early lead

Robert Kubica leads Rally Azores, his first attempt at a European Rally Championship gravel round, by nine seconds at the end of day one

Azores ERC: Robert Kubica takes early lead

Thursday's leg was truncated due to the appalling weather that struck the area the previous day, with SS1 cancelled altogether and SS2 shortened due to the amount of water.

Stage three and the stage four superspecial ran as planned, and a clean sweep of fastest stage times brought Kubica's Citroen to the finish with an encouraging early lead.

Craig Breen had been Kubica's closest challenger on the afternoon's opener, where he was 2.2s slower.

But the Peugeot driver picked up a puncture along the way and with just one spare left, chose to drive carefully through the next two stages.

That left Breen in fourth, with Jan Kopecky's works Skoda now leading the pursuit of Kubica.

Kopecky took second place from top local driver Ricardo Moura on the superspecial.

When the action resumes on Friday morning, just 1.7s will cover Kopecky, Moura and Breen, with Bernardo Sousa 2.2s further back.

Leading positions after SS4: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Robert Kubica Citroen 11m13.5s 2. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 9.7s 3. Ricardo Moura Skoda + 10.5s 4. Craig Breen Sainteloc Peugeot + 11.7s 5. Bernardo Sousa Ford + 13.6s 6. Jeremi Ancian Sainteloc Peugeot + 18.8s 7. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot + 19.4s 8. Jan Cerny Czech Skoda + 39.8s 9. Mark Wallenwein Skoda + 43.0s 10. Jaroslav Orsak Mitsubishi + 49.8s 
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Azores ERC: Robert Kubica pull-out threat averted amid fog problems

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