12 Oct 08
Martin Prokop won the Junior World Rally Championship battle in Corsica today, driving his Citroen C4 S1600 to a second consecutive J-WRC victory and his third of the year.
But while another win moved the Czech Republic driver third in the championship’s final standings, his achievement was overshadowed by that of Frenchman Sebastien Ogier who brought his identical car to the finish second and was crowned 2008 Junior champion.
Prokop began Sunday’s competition in the lead, 29sec ahead French driver Pierre Campana in his Renault Clio R3. But Campana’s challenge faded over Sunday’s closing stages and the local hero finished the rally in third. In the end Prokop’s closest challenger was Sebastien Ogier, who finished 17.7sec back in second place.
“I’m happy to win but at the same time a bit disappointed that the good results have come so late in the season,” said Prokop. “It’s a nice feeling to win three rallies but I would have preferred to have been in a good fight with Sebastien on this rally. But that’s the sport. What is positive is we had a good speed on every rally. Whether it was tarmac or gravel we were quick. Unfortunately we had too many problems early in the year; otherwise we would have done well. We’ll see about next year.”
After crashing out of the previous round in Spain, winning Corsica wasn’t really on the agenda for Ogier, who was under strict instructions to get his car safely to the finish. In the end it all worked out perfectly. “I’m very happy; it’s a perfect moment and here in France it’s in a perfect place,” said Ogier. “I have a lot of fans and family here and I think tonight we will have a big party. It’s been a difficult weekend. After my mistake in Spain I came here with a little bit of pressure. I knew I could be fast but I couldn’t afford to have any problems. But the team worked well and I want to thank Citroen and the French Federation for helping me. Now we want to get into the WRC as soon as possible.”
Citroen Sport boss Olivier Quesnel refused to say when Ogier might make his WRC debut but said a decision was imminent. “First we wanted Sebastien to win the J-WRC,” said Quesnel. “Now he has done that we will see this week what will happen next. All I will say now is that we are very pleased to have him at Citroen Sport and we want to do something to help him become a great driver.”
Sebastien Loeb also praised the ‘other’ Seb’s achievement. “What he’s done is very good,” said Loeb. “He’s been quick every time he has raced, and now he’s won the series. It’s not every day we see a French driver coming out of the J-WRC. I’m sure he has a good talent and I hope he will have the opportunity to show what he can do in a WRC car, that’s the next step for him.”
Aaron Burkart - Ogier’s only J-WRC title challenger - finished fifth and secured the J-WRC runner-up position.
Follow this link this link to read our comprehensive summary of the Rallye de France J-WRC competition.