Before the first round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship, Robert Kubica has stepped away from endurance racing by dropping out of the ByKOLLES Racing team. The season was supposed to be Kubica’s return to full-time circuit racing but the Polish driver has stepped away before even setting foot in the car.
Kubica made the announcement on his social media account on Tuesday before the season opener. He stated: “After the prologue [test], I have decided to interrupt my racing programme with the ByKolles team in LMP1. Therefore, I will not take part in the upcoming WEC Silverstone opening round and in other WEC races.
“It has been a hard decision to step down and so lose the opportunity to join such a challenging and competitive championship, but I hope this will not be a definitive goodbye.”
Kubica had taken part in many GT events last year in a bid to get his circuit racing career back on track. An arm injury saw the end to his Formula One career, and every since Kubica has been looking for a way to get back into circuit racing. He made an incredible impression on the Rallying community when he initially got back to racing after his accident, taking both the World Rally Championship WRC2 title and a European Rally Championship round before turning his focus back to circuit racing.
Kubica’s announcement comes after the team suffered a horrible two days testing at the Prologue earlier this month. ByKOLLES only managed 6 laps before ending their test a day early, not even taking the car out of the garage on the second morning and packing up early. Kubica had not taken the #4 ByKOLLES entry out for any laps as Oliver Webb took it out for its six laps in the rain on the Saturday evening of the test.
As the only team in the LMP1 Privateer field, ByKOLLES would have been hoping for a better start to the season. The team plans on using the 2017 season to get an advantage on the new privateer team fueled by Ginetta in 2018. However, with the team so far unable to put any mileage on the 2017 challenger it is not looking very good for them.
Recently announced James Rossiter was the third driver alongside Kubica and Webb for the 2017 WEC season. With Kubica’s departure, it looks like ByKOLLES will bring in Dominik Kraihamer to fill the third seat. Kraihamer had been due to test for the team during the second day of the Prologue as an option for the third seat alongside Kubica and Webb, but technical issues with the car meant he got no running completed. Last year, Kraihamer raced in the LMP1 Privateer class for Rebellion Racing.