Kubica: Winning WEC LMP2 title "brings back smile" after Le Mans defeats

Robert Kubica says clinching the World Endurance Championship's LMP2 title has put a smile back on his face after a number of heartbreaking defeats at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Robert Kubica

WRT trio Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Rui Andrade were crowned the WEC’s last-ever LMP2 champions with victory in Saturday’s Bahrain finale, beating Inter Europol’s Albert Costa, Fabio Scherer and Jakub Smiechowski by an astonishing 59 points in the final tally.

Kubica feels his WEC title success goes a long way in making up for his near-miss at Le Mans in 2021 when a freak throttle sensor failure on the last lap denied him a win on his and WRT’s first visit to La Sarthe.

The Polish driver has since notched up two second-place finishes in the French endurance classic, but a victory continues to elude him.

“I didn't win many championships, to be honest, in my life,” Kubica told Autosport. “Yes, a few of them but every season every championship is different. This feels special. 

“It's a shame for Le Mans, I have to admit it. Finishing P2 second year in a row and in 2021 losing the win on the last lap. 

"But anyway this world championship brings back some smile. I think for sure we couldn't end up in a better way.”

Such was the consistency of the #41 WRT crew that they finished all but one race of the year on the podium, and their first-place result in the Bahrain 8 Hours marked their third victory in seven attempts.

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

While hailing WRT for an impressive campaign, Kubica said his title success shows he can be competitive in endurance racing, having made a switch to this form of motorsport after an unsuccessful return to Formula 1 in 2019.

Kubica had already won the European Le Mans Series title in 2021 also with WRT, although his WEC success marks his first world championship title in any discipline of motorsport since he triumphed in the WRC2 class in 2013 while driving a Citroen.

“For sure it's a great achievement,” he said. “When you always start a new chapter and this was me coming to endurance racing, first in ELMS and then in WEC, the goal was always to perform. 

“Every season we start, I'm 38, I know I can be competitive. I know what I need to perform and this year it shows that together with my team-mates in WRT that we have all the ingredients to perform.

“I think we did a very good job, six consecutive podiums out of seven races, very consistent. We did have better and worse days but we never gave up and it highlights the quality of work we have done.“

Kubica, Deletraz and Andrade managed to complete the Bahrain race with one less pitstop than most of their rivals, which allowed them to make their way up the pack after a disappointing qualifying session left them 10th in the LMP2 class.

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The 38-year-old revealed that WRT had committed to the strategy early on, which meant he could manage his fuel and tyre consumption accordingly.

“I have to say we didn't have smooth free practices but we turned it around,” he explained.

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

“When we saw during the race that the car handling was as we expected we knew we can make a good pace.

“We started the race with a different strategy to the others. We did set-up for the car and it paid off. 

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“Honestly I was a bit surprised that not many cars at all [used our strategy] in the beginning of the race. Jota diverted to our strategy, but all the others kind of ignored it. 

“I'm surprised because Bahrain is always about managing and this was the perfect combination of speed, managing and fuel saving.

“So, it all worked out and we scored another win, third win, second one in the row, so great.”

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