Martin Prokop took the victory in the J-WRC category on the Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada last weekend, after the surprise retirement of championship leader Sebastien Ogier.
Prokop finished the opening day 47 seconds behind Ogier, after he lost time on the very first stage with a technical problem. After that it looked to be all over as the Frenchman built his lead to over a minute. Disaster struck though on the last stage on day two, when Ogier hit a bank and broke his C2's radiator, causing too much damage to continue.
Perfectly placed to adopt the lead, Prokop took up the reins and sat tight despite a few engine concerns and he eventually took the win - his second of the season in the J-WRC - by 24.6 seconds.
"It was a very lucky weekend for us and we're lucky to be here," said Prokop. "After Sébastien retired yesterday it was quite easy for me to win as I had a comfortable lead. Also I know how to drive on tarmac so it was not difficult to stay focused and drive the car to the finish.
"It's a shame that I have been so unlucky during the first half of the season, otherwise now I could be fighting for the title."
Alessandro Bettega meanwhile took the runners-up spot in his Renault Clio R3, despite coming under pressure late on from Aaron Burkart. Second place in the J-WRC equal's Bettega's previous best in the Junior class.
"I'm really happy as I didn't expect to finish in this position," said the Italian. "I'm happy for the team – they did a really good job. And we had a good rally – we made no mistakes, had a good rhythm, especially today with Burkart on our tail. Now I'm really looking forward to Corsica."
Burkart thus had to settle for the final place on the rostrum, but importantly that means he now lies just four points behind Ogier going into last round in Corsica, where it will be a two-way fight for the J-WRC crown.
"We made no mistakes and we just tried to push. Today was good for us – I liked the stages as we did a few best times, I just don't know why we couldn't do that on the first day," stated the German. "I will put as much pressure as I can on Ogier in Corsica and I'll be ready to jump if he makes a mistake!"