Martin Prokop took his second J-WRC win in succession and his third of the season on the Rally de France-Tour de Corse on Sunday, the final round in this year's Junior World Rally Championship.
Prokop, who won in Spain last weekend, set the initial pace, although with the Championship title at stake, both Sebastien Ogier and Aaron Burkart were not overly pushing, conscious only of staying safe and avoiding mistakes, so the Czech driver settled into the lead comfortably.
By the end of the first day however, he was being challenged by Corsican hot shot and 'wild card' runner Pierre Campana, who stole the lead after Prokop lost time on SS6 with a puncture.
But Prokop soon upped his pace again on day two to regain P1 and he confidently defended his lead to finish his J-WRC season on a high - and secure third in the J-WRC standings.
“Three wins, but it isn't enough for the Championship! It's a nice way to end the season but I still feel quite disappointed as my aim was to be champion this year,” said Prokop. “Sébastien did a good job though and we were prepared to fight, we have a lot of experience, the car has good speed but we just had too many problems through the year.”
Ogier meanwhile took the runners-up spot, moving ahead of Campana in the final stage, when the Renault driver lost 30 seconds with a puncture. Second was more than sufficient to ensure Ogier took the 2008 J-WRC title in his debut season and he ends the year with 42 points, 8 more than his closest rival – having taken four podiums, including wins in Mexico, Jordan and Germany.
“This is a perfect moment in a perfect place as I have all my family and friends here. After Spain [and crashing out of the lead] the week off was difficult,” he conceded. “But we had always led the Championship and we came here with four points more than Burkart so we knew we just had to stay ahead of him and finish.”
Despite slipping to third in SS16, Campana was happy to get on the rostrum: “For sure before the rally we didn't expect this result as I have only done about 15 rallies as a driver, the others I was a co-driver. So I'm really happy and of course it's important here as I am the first Corsican driver.”
Further down the order fellow 'wild card' runner Pierre Marché was fourth in his Suzuki Swift, even though he lost time with two punctures on day 1. He fought his way back to sixth by the end of Saturday's second leg and then powered his way through the final day to steal P4 from Aaron Burkart.