M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson is predicting that his new recruit, Robert Kubica, will make a strong impression when he embarks on his first outright WRC campaign next week.
Kubica joins the Cumbria-based squad in a Ford Fiesta after winning the WRC 2 title last season.
The Polish ex-F1 driver will run with M-Sport alongside, Mikko Hirvonen who is returning for a second stint with the team and the rookie Elfyn Evans ahead of the traditional WRC season opener in Monte Carlo.
Wilson was praiseworthy of Kubica's ability even though the former Sauber BMW F1 has proven accident-proven since his switch to rallying.
“Some of the times he was doing in WRC2, nobody has got that close to World Rally Car pace in a regional car before,” Wilson said on stage at the Autosport Show.
“In the second half of the season with the tarmac events he's already done, he's going to be really strong.
“What's really shocked me is the amount of dedication and commitment that he puts into it.
“As an example, with the restrictions on his arm, he was at the workshop till 11pm the other night working with the engineers to reconfigure the handbrake and gearshift mechanism.”
Kubica heads into the Monte rally in good form after winning the opening round of the European Rally Championship with victory at the Janner Rally last week in his M-Sport debut.
“It's very nice to have won this event, but our priority was to get as much experience and information as possible as we prepare for Monte Carlo”, said Kubica.
“I did participate on four ERC events last year, but I was often unlucky and made a few mistakes as I was using the rallies for training.
“I was a bit luckier this time, but the conditions were very difficult and this was definitely one of the toughest weekends of my motorsport career.”