Thursday | 11 Jun 2015

SS1: Prokop surprise leader in Italy

Martin Prokop was the surprise winner of Thursday night’s opening special stage at Rally Italia Sardegna when he sped to fastest time over the harbour roads in the island’s capital city, Cagliari.

Stage info: SS1

Citta’ di Cagliari, 2.50km
For the second year the harbour area of Sardinia’s south coast capital city provides the weekend’s opening action. Drivers tackle two asphalt loops, one more than in 2014, and the stage will be broadcast globally on live TV. About 30,000 people attended last season.

Tens of thousands of fans saw the privately-entered Czech driver go quickest by 1.3sec in a Ford Fiesta RS, outpacing Robert Kubica’s similar car in the two-at-a-time 2.50km asphalt test.

Dani Sordo, fastest this morning at shakedown, was second quickest in a Hyundai i20 but the Spaniard incurred a 10sec penalty for a jump start to drop him well down the order.

Andreas Mikkelsen was third in a Volkswagen Polo R, 1.7sec behind Prokop. The Norwegian beat Thierry Neuville in their heat but the Belgian was fourth, a further 1.2sec behind in his i20.

Ott Tänak was tied with Neuville but the Estonian reported a handbrake problem in his Fiesta RS, while Citroën’s Mads Østberg rounded off the top six in a DS 3.

Both Kubica and Lorenzo Bertelli had to stop and reverse after missing a tight junction, while Khalid Al Qassimi hit the right rear wheel of his DS 3 on a kerb.

After overnighting in Cagliari, competitors restart at 06.30 tomorrow. Friday’s route is totally new as it heads up the west coast via Oristano towards the rally base in Alghero, which hosts a mid-leg service. Four morning gravel stages are repeated in the afternoon, with an extra test taking the competitive distance to 133.50km.

• Watch Prokop win the opening stage at the WRC’s Facebook page here.

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