Kubica to Test With ByKolles in Bahrain (Update)

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

UPDATE Robert Kubica expressed interest in pursuing a return to road racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship after testing with ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER in Bahrain on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Pole has not competed regularly since his Formula 1 career was abruptly ended by a rallying accident in 2011, which required two years of surgery on his right arm.

After spending three seasons in the World Rally Championship, Kubica stepped up his preparations with one-off appearances in the 24H Series and Renault Sport Trophy in 2016, before accepting an invitation from Colin Kolles to drive his LMP1 Privateer car in the WEC Rookie Test.

He completed 27 laps in the test and set the car's fastest time of the day, beating regular driver Pierre Kaffer.

"Of course LMP1 doesn't need to be introduced. All motorsport fans know about LMP1, it's kind of Formula 1 with covered wheels," he said.

"The races are high-level races. It's not that you go chill out and you do 12 hours, 24 hours cruising — you have to push.

"Because it's something new, I'm not 100 percent sure I will like it, but on the other hand every new challenge gives you some extra motivation to try them to see if you can do it well.

"But for sure if I would decide to do it, it's because I want to do it, not because I don't have anything else to do. I came here just to see, to get rid of some doubts I have."

Kubica admitted concern that the limited mobility in his right arm could pose difficulties, but came away encouraged that he could compete in long-distance races.

"It was not easy and I would prefer to have a proper seat-fitting in a factory before driving," he said.

"Fortunately it worked out pretty well and I was quite comfortable in the car, not 100 percent, but I could drive still. We used it as kind of a rollout, checking if I can fit in the car and it was okay.

"For sure because of my limitations, endurance races are quite difficult because there are driver changes which you have to do as fast as possible. You cannot build up your cockpit around yourself."

Kubica also explained that following the termination of his rally program, he had hoped for his 2017 plans to be confirmed by October.

He is understood to have been pushing for a DTM seat before all three manufacturers downsized from eight to six cars, which led him to consider the WEC.

However, Kubica is conscious that his name is still held in high-regard and he can afford to wait for the right opportunity to come along.

"The fact is I do not know what I will be doing, and to be honest it's a bit of putting me, not under pressure, but I admit I would prefer to know," he said.

"But on the other hand I don't want to hurry. If something good comes, I will speak about it.

"I know there are areas where I will need to dedicate a bit of time if I will become a proper endurance race driver, but I think if most of the drivers can get used to it and they manage to do it, I don't see the reason why I shouldn't do it.

"The category is a very high level and I think it's growing up a lot, although Audi pulled out which is a shame, but for sure endurance races plus Le Mans makes something very attractive." John Dagys/sportscar365

11/19/16 Robert Kubica will test the ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER in Bahrain on Sunday ahead of a possible move to the FIA World Endurance Championship next year.

The 2008 Canadian F1 Grand Prix winner was tipped for Formula 1 superstardom when he suffered career-threatening injuries to his right arm in a rallying accident in 2011.

Kubica’s only regular program since then has been in the World Rally Championship. He made his circuit racing comeback earlier this year at the Mugello 12 Hours, and finished third in a cameo appearance with Duqueine Engineering in the Renault Sport Trophy at Spa.

ByKolles Head of Operations Boris Bermes downplayed the possibility of the Pole joining the team next year and stressed that it’s just a test.

“He’s coming here to get some experience and see how he likes a LMP1 car," Bermes told Sportscar365.

“He’s had a long relationship with Colin and he wants to see if this car is suited to him. For now, there’s nothing [for next year]."

Kubica will be joined by Italian former IndyCar driver Francesco Dracone in the ByKolles entry for the WEC-sanctioned Rookie Test. John Dagys/Sportscar365

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