Kubica takes the Jännerrallye, we look at how it happened

Robert Kubica on his way to victory in the Jännerrallye (photo: FIA ERC)
Robert Kubica on his way to victory in the Jännerrallye (photo: FIA ERC)

The first major motorsport event for the 2014 season has been run and won with the Jännerrallye – or the January Rally having taken place in Austria.  The Jännerrallye is the opening round of the European Rally Championship and takes place in Freistadt on a combination of snow and tarmac.  The conditions were a little warmer this year and the snow was lacking.

There were 245 competitive kilometres over two days with former F1 star and Ford’s 2014 WRC runner, Robert Kubica taking the spoils.  The reigning WRC2 Champion didn’t have it all his own way, with Václav Pech leading the rally into the final stage but a stunning final stage say Kubica snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, starting his year on a massive high.

Kubica had this to say in the post race press conference:

Question to Robert Kubica
Congratulations Robert on a stunning victory on the opening round of the ERC. What does this result mean to you on what was effectively an extended test session?

RK: “For sure it’s very nice to be here as a winner but our priority was a bit different. It was to get as much experience and information from this rally in order to prepare for Monte-Carlo. I did participate in some ERC events last year but somehow I was a bit unlucky with too many mistakes. But practically I always used the ERC rallies as training for me and it was a bit the same here. Okay, this weekend we were a bit more lucky because in the end in such difficult conditions everybody had a few moments on the stages. For sure it’s helping that there are often big fields so you can quite easily come back. For sure this weekend has been one of the toughest motorsport weekends of my career because I came here with a new car, a new co-driver into a new rally and completely new conditions – weather conditions, road conditions I never experienced. You can imagine when you get already one new thing it’s difficult. When you put them together it has been a very tough two days.”

Question to Robert Kubica
Can you explain your tyre choice for the final stage and talk us through your drive on the stage?

RK: “I have no experience to be honest. I did see a few things yesterday and today on the stages. The only real tyre test we did was in France last week when it was raining, so similar conditions. But then I added here the Tarmac was more slippery, I was often aquaplaning in the loop before on slicks, we were driving in the night and there would be a lot of mud and my choice would be for snow tyres because we have no wet tyre. But we couldn’t use four tyres because we would be out of the tyre limit for the rally so we decided to put two stud tyres and two snow tyres and it worked out very well. But it hasn’t been an easy stage because there was a lot of fog and I clipped one of the wood sticks and one of the additional lights went out of the support cover and turned into my face. I knew there was fast section and I was trying to switch it off. But the first thing I started searching the button like it was the Citroën but then I realised I’m not any more in Citroën, I am in a Fiesta and then I don’t hear the last pacenotes from Maciej. I saw there was a field, after three times he repeated I hear it but it was too late and we had a big moment and I apologise because it was not nice. It shouldn’t happen but it’s better these things come out now than during the season. We will need to fix because when we are driving in the night I have the buttons on the steering wheel and I couldn’t see anything so we have to do some modifications to help with this. It has been a difficult stage but somehow after two kilometres I knew I had a big advantage so I was just hoping to bring the car to the finish. I was pretty confident the gap would be big enough and so it was the case.”


Question to Robert Kubica
Your winning margin could have been even higher had it not been for your puncture on Saturday and the jumpstart penalty today. What actually happened on stage 12?

RK: “As I say I used this rally as kind of a training. Of course I don’t puncture on purpose or do a jumpstart on purpose. I need to practice. To be honest the puncture of yesterday was very unlucky. I didn’t see anything, just hear a click but very soft. Then I watched the onboard footage in the evening and you cannot see anything, there was no stone. Any cuts you have big stones and nothing happens but probably we just clipped something and cut the tyre. Today, okay, a jumpstart I was a bit annoying myself. Of course the car is completely different and the way the starting procedure is done is different. Every time I get to the start I was delaying the start. To be honest when you are an F1 driver you cannot delay the start because you will be dead. In rally it doesn’t matter half a second but in my mentality every bit counts especially as we were in the fight with Václav. I knew what I had to do and I did change but it worked out too well and I did a jumpstart by two-tenths and got a penalty.”

Question to Robert Kubica
We’re only five days in to the New Year and you’re already a winner. What can you achieve this season based on the experience you’ve gained this weekend?

RK: “It’s always good. There was only one year in my career that I have not been on the podium in 2007 so starting by being on the podium and winning the rally is always nice but we have to keep our feet on the ground. This year will be a big challenge participating in the WRC with the top drivers and the new rallies coming. I have never been in Monte-Carlo apart from the recce in 2010 but I didn’t start the rally. I didn’t drive on snow so maybe Marcus [Grönholm, present] can give me some advice for Swedish Rally. It was a great opportunity to come here but it really will be a tough and long season. I am here to learn and use this opportunity as much as I can and hopefully the learning process one day will end up and I use my skills together with experience fundamental in rallying. You need time to learn and do the rallies and discover the stages. It takes a lot of time but I am motivated to work and then we will see.”

Third was taken by 54 year old Raimund Baumschlager who has no plans to hang up the helmet.



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