New car, new tyres, new hopes: it’s all change for Poland’s WRC driver in Sardinia.
After missing Greece’s recent round Michal Kosciuszko this week returns to World Rally Championship action on the Rally d’Italia Sardinia and it will be difficult to miss him after he revealed his new M-Sport Ford Fiesta’s livery.
The Lotos livery, in deference to his Polish petroleum sponsor, has been carried over from the MINI in which he contested the season’s opening five rounds to the Fiesta and it looks stunning.
Kosciuszko commented: “I received a lot of positive comments from fans in Poland and within a few minutes of putting it on Facebook it had 500 ‘likes’. OK, I can’t see it from the inside of the car so I’m looking forward to seeing some photos after the first stages.”
Things didn’t work out how Kosciuszko had hoped in the MINI but in the Fiesta he has a car equal to those of Qatar-backed M-Sport drivers Mads Ostberg, Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov.
He added: “It’s a new car, new tyres, new hopes. Everything together… I believe it must work. I tested the car in Greystoke forest near to M Sport’s base in the UK and immediately felt comfortable. I’d already driven the Fiesta in IRC and S2000 specifications, but now it’s the WRC version.
“It’s not about the power, it’s the handling. I’m more confident what the car will do, how it will react. It’s more precise but also softer than I expected, more like a racing car. There is greater stability and traction and easier to carry speed in slow corners. Everything seems to be easier – the handling, gearshifting and I can feel the grip more with the tyres. I can brake later and can take maybe 3-5kph more speed in the corners.”
Kosciuszko also expects to quickly see an improvement in results as he explained: “I only have three shots – the deal is only for Sardinia, Germany and Great Britain so I need to take my chances and drive as fast as possible.
I’m now up to speed in a WRC car so that’s not new any more, but getting used to the Fiesta will take some mileage.
I don’t know how much, but I want to get in the groove and push as soon as possible.”
Kosciuszko is currently the only Polish driver in the top WRC tier – Robert Kubica’s season is in the supporting WRC2 category. Asked if he sees Kubica as a friend or a threat to his standing, Kosciuszko is clear in his answer.
He replied: “Definitely not a threat, no. In fact even though he is in a Citroen we are like team-mates because we both have LOTOS as a sponsor.
“Also for me what he is doing coming back from such a scary accident and difficult time is very impressive. In some ways he is a motivation.”
While we won’t get to see Kosciuszko and Kubica competing in equal machinery in this year’s WRC, fans in their native Poland will when they both contest the country’s September round of the European Rally Championship round, in ERC-spec Fiesta and Citroen respectively.
He said: “It’s very important I do this rally – Lotos is the big sponsor there and of course it means we can push each other and have some fun together in similar cars. It will be very interesting to see how we compare also with some of the other top Polish drivers. It’s a very important event for our country.”