Robert Kubica will begin his preparations for the asphalt rounds of the World Rally Championship with a late entry on the Rally del Casentino in Italy this weekend.
The Polish star will tackle the Arezzo event in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC run by the Italian A-Style team. The car was brought to M-Sport's UK base earlier this week, where it was fitted with the paddle shift system used on Kubica's RK M-Sport World Rally Team Fiesta.
This will be Kubica's first significant mileage in the same specification car he will use on the WRC's asphalt rounds: Rally Germany next month and in France and Catalunya later in the season.
"It is a great source of pride to have [Robert] Kubica at the start of our race," Rally del Casentino organizer Loriana Norcini said. "His presence gives even greater prominence to Rally del Casentino."
Kubica's Fiesta will be one of just three current specification World Rally Cars on the event, but the fight for overall honours is likely to be led by numerous two-litre WRCs, including Italian International Rally Cup defending champion Corrado Fontana who drives a Focus RS WRC.
Kubica has driven a Fiesta on asphalt before this season, winning the ERC-opening Janner Rally at the start of the year, and then leading the Monte Carlo Rally before crashing out. Both of those events were run on wet and icy asphalt. Kubica won his last dry asphalt rally – December's Ronde Citta di Sperlonga – at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 S2000.
The Rally del Casentino starts on Friday night with a short spectator stage and finishes on Saturday after 86 competitive miles.