Robert Kubica was the surprise pacesetter through this morning’s shakedown stage at Rally Italia Sardegna.
It was the first fastest time on a WRC gravel stage for the Pole who comes into the rally fresh from a weekend test in Sardinia.
“I had quite a good feeling straight away and the grip was better than I expected,” said Kubica. “It helped that we waited to let the others go because I’ll be at the back of the start order tomorrow so there was no point in running at the front on a fresh road.
Andreas Mikkelsen – stopped in shakedown
“The stage had a bit of everything, but was maybe lacking high speed corners which we will get during the next days. There were narrow parts and bumps but generally it was a lower speed stage rather than a high speed one,” he added.
Kubica’s Ford Fiesta RS was one tenth of a second quicker than Sébastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R through the sun-baked 4.30km Putifigari test. Jari-Matti Latvala was a further two-tenths of a second back in the second VW.
Most drivers tackled just the minimum two runs but Henning Solberg, who did not have a pre-event test in his Fiesta RS, completed four and set fourth fastest time on his final pass, 0.5sec slower than Kubica.
Andreas Mikkelsen stopped for a minute during his first run with an electrical problem in the engine of his Polo R, but was fifth quickest in his second pass. Kris Meeke rounded off the top six in his Citroen DS3.
Times for the World Rally Car drivers were:
Pos Driver Time
1 Robert Kubica 3min 35.4sec
2 Sebastien Ogier + 0.1
3 Jari-Matti Latvala + 0.3
4 Henning Solberg + 0.5
5 Andreas Mikkelsen + 1.0
6 Kris Meeke + 3.4
7 Thierry Neuville + 3.5
8 Juho Hanninen + 4.2
9 Mikko Hirvonen + 4.4
10 Mads Ostberg + 5.1
11 Hayden Paddon + 5.1
12 Elfyn Evans + 5.9
13 Khalid Al Qassimi + 12.9
14 Martin Prokop + 17.1
15 Jaroslav Melicharek + 21.8