ERC - Rally Poland: Bouffier leads as Kubica hits trouble

Bryan Bouffier picked up where he left off in the FIA European Rally Championship by going after victory in Poland.

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French driver Bryan Bouffier (AFP)

After challenging on the Sibiu Rally in July, Bouffier is now fighting at the front of Rally Poland in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000. With fastest times on three of Saturday’s seven stages, the three-time Polish champion leads at the overnight halt in Mikołajki by 16.8s.

“It has been really difficult today, very tricky with the weather conditions and I must say I am a bit fortunate to be here because for the final one and a half kilometres of the last stage I had a driveshaft broken I think,” said Frenchman Bouffier, whose Peugeot uses Michelin tyres.

“For sure the grip has not been good but I am having to push because the gap is not so big.”

But the true drama occurred behind Bouffier when national hero Robert Kubica, who started the day in second overall, retired after tearing the front-right wheel from his Citroën DS3 RRC striking a rock hidden in a cut on a fifth-gear right-hander.

Despite heroically battling to the finish of the stage, albeit with a significant time loss, the damage was too great for Kubica to attempt the road section back to final service.

“I thought we had less damage than we have,” he said.

“I tried to make it to the finish as I thought we had some spare parts but we don’t and it’s a shame. It was in a quick part and I hit a stone on the braking and all the effort went on the front right. I thought at the beginning it was a puncture but in the end it was the wheel.

“I was doing my rally to be honest, not risking anything but it’s kind of part of the rally. I am not sure if we come back tomorrow.”

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