Formula One star Robert Kubica’s Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo is over almost before it had begun after he retired from Tuesday evening’s prologue stage with a broken engine.
Kubica, who was due to tackle the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event for the first time in a Renault
Clio R3, stopped during the 8.83-kilometre stage.
Efforts to make repairs to enable him to start the first special stage on Wednesday had to be abandoned when it became clear his technicians couldn’t repair the damage without tampering with the sealed elements of the engine.
Before the start, Kubica, who was fulfilling a life-long ambition to compete on the legendary rally before his testing commitments with the Renault F1 team get underway, had remarked on the challenge he would face. The 25-year-old said: “If the conditions will be like they were on the recce, very changeable, then it will be a very big challenge and one of the biggest challenges of my life to finish the rally.”
Czech driver Jan Cerny was the quickest of the 12 Clio R3 European Trophy competitors who started the event. He said: “I'm the first person to be surprised by this fastest stage time as I wasn't pushing; I was just driving normally. It was the first time I was using these tyres and up to now I have only driven one small rally in the Clio R3. I need to build up some more experience with the car, and so my main aim is just to be there at the finish in Monaco on Friday night"
Pierre Campana, who is one of the favourites to win the Clio R3 European Trophy, had an electrical problem which meant that his main light pod was not working. Because of that he had a minor off, but there was no lasting damage.
Drivers in the Clio R3 European Trophy can score IRC 2WD points on the Monte Carlo, Ypres and Zlin rallies.