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Half-term report:
Martin Prokop

For our latest half-term driver report we turn the spotlight on established WRC privateer Martin Prokop:

So far 2014 has been an up and down ride for the Ford Fiesta RS driver, who finds himself ninth the drivers’ standings - five points adrift of factory team pilot Elfyn Evans. The amiable Czech can take some consolation from being the WRC’s leading private competitor but, having tackled more rallies that his rivals, it's no big surprise.

Prokop’s mixed bag of a season started with disaster on the opening Rallye Monte Carlo when a broken alternator ruled him out before he got to the start of the second stage.

He made a radical change inside the car before round two, replacing co-driver Michal Ernst, who had driven with him since Rally Catalunya 2012, with his former co-driver Jan Tomanek. It was Prokop’s third switch of co-drivers since he replaced Tomanek with Zdenek Hruza for the 2012 season. It was a journey, Prokop said, that had led him back to Tomanek.

Sadly the reunited partnership got off to an awkward start in Sweden when Prokop buried his Fiesta in a snow bank in Thursday’s opening stage and had to be pulled out by spectators. He did the same on Sunday, only this time there was nobody around to help him back.

After two non finishes, Prokop got a  confidence boost in Mexico where he finished sixth - despite a huge spin on the final day that threatened to put Fiona the Fiesta on its roof. He kept his nose clean in Portugal too, with a trouble-free run to sixth, which he snatched from Thierry Neuville in the final stage.

Next up was Argentina, the rally on which Prokop scored a career best fourth in 2012. This year however he couldn’t get near the top five and, worse still, he was outclassed by his Fiesta RS rivals Evans and Robert Kubica. He had a lot of problems too. On Saturday morning he bashed a rear wheel on a bridge, damaging the diff for the rest of the day. On Sunday he complained of damper problems and then lost his rear anti-roll bar. The experience left him reeling, with Prokop’s team reporting ‘both crew and car are messed up after this extreme rally’.

He bounced back strongly on the next round in Sardegna, when his lowly place in the championship standings gave him a welcome road position advantage on the opening day. He made the most of the opportunity and delivered one of the drives of his career. A back injury and an ill-handling car took the shine off his most recent outing in Poland. Still, he took a point for 10th place.

High point
:
Sardegna was arguably the Czech’s best performance in a World Rally Car. Although he was benefitting from a healthy road position on the first day, he showed impressive speed to run as high as third overall after the opening five stages. He slipped down the order when road positions changed on the second and third days, but he still managed to finish sixth overall.


Low point:

Rallye Monte Carlo was about as bad as it could be. After all the pre-season preparation, an electrical failure brought Prokop’s rally to an end after just one stage.

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