WRC Portugal: Robert Kubica pleased with pace before retirement

Robert Kubica admitted that he has been pleasantly surprised by his pace on the opening day of Rally of Portugal

WRC Portugal: Robert Kubica pleased with pace before retirement

Kubica's Citroen was the fastest of the Regional Rally Cars competing on the Faro-based event by the end of the day's four gravel stages.

When he was forced to retire with a lack of useable tyres on the road to Lisbon, only rising Finnish star and factory Skoda driver Esapekka Lappi was ahead of him in WRC2.

"I am surprised, I drove very good stages for me today," he said. "I cannot say I am happy, there is still a long way to go and I have to work a lot for sure in the future.

"But to be here, for the first time on gravel and to be able to drive like I did in three stages, it was a good piece of work from my side."

Kubica added, however, that the Portuguese roads had posed more of a challenge than he had expected.

"It was a mixed day today," he said. "In the first stage I struggled for grip and had very poor confidence, but that improved in the second stage, where we had one small moment when we slid off the road over a crest.

"It is very difficult to drive here for the first time and additionally for me with no experience [of gravel rallying]. These are very, very difficult stages with a lot of crests. I was a bit surprised on some corners.

"For me, it is difficult to judge when you drive [in the recce] at 50km/h, how a single crest will affect the car.

"You cannot say: 'OK, I back off on these two corners and I will only lose two seconds,' because it is practically every three corners that there is a crest of a jump or something affecting the car."

Talking about his retirement from the event, he said: "We cut the rear tyre and [another] rear tyre was slightly off the rim.

"The tyre lost the air slowly and we had no chance to arrive [in Lisbon] with only one spare."

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