Ex-F1 ace Kubica suffers Portugal blowout

Ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica saw his Rally of Portugal hopes crumble on Friday after a series of punctures trumped his total of remaining spare tyres.

Polish driver Robert Kubica and co-driver Macek Baran steer their Citroen DS3 RRC during the second stage of the Rally of Portugal in Santa Clara near Ourique, on April 12, 2013.

Kubica, 28, whose F1 career careered to a halt when he suffered a horror crash in an Italian rally in February two years ago, was second in the standings in the production class when his race ended early Friday.

His Citroen suffered three punctures on the first four stages, and with only two spare tyres left, the Pole was unable to complete the 206km drive to the final stage in the Portuguese capital.

Kubica, making his gravel rally debut in the world championship, had been fourth quickest though Friday's opening stage and went third fastest on the next despite slipping into a ditch.

He was second quickest on stage three and again on four, but at the expense of another two flat tyres.

"He did a great performance today,"the head of Citroen Racing, Yves Matton told www.wrc.com.

"His style is good -- it's very similar to the top drivers. He's trying to drive where the grip is the best.

"For sure he had some punctures this morning but it's something you have to learn."

Kubica, who drove for Renault in the Formula One world championship, suffered life-threatening multiple injuries in an accident at the Ronde di Andora Rally in 2011.

His right-hand was partially severed in the crash in northern Italy when he hit a safety barrier and had to be cut free from his car. He also suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and leg.

France's Sebastien Ogier, in a Volkswagen, finished the day in the overall lead.

The world championship leader was four seconds ahead of Spain's Dani Sordo in a Citroen, and 11 seconds up on Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala in the second Volkswagen.

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Writer: AFP
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