After two overseas events, World Rally Championship continued with its fifth round back in Europe on Portuguese gravel. Organizers of 49th Rally de Portugal moved the race back north, where the rally was originally based until 2001. Martin Prokop and Jan Tománek of the Jipocar Czech National Team were on the start with their brand new Ford Fiesta RS WRC, built under the latest specification. Central-European private team came through several demanding moments during last two weeks as guys were assembling their new car at British M-Sport and had only one short test before the Portuguese rally. Mechanics were working hard until late nights to make the car 100% fit and ready to tackle the rough gravel roads around Porto. After consistent performance, Martin finished 10th overall and he is one of only three drivers who scored points in every single of the five WRC events so far this year.
Martin Prokop said: „We were expecting some step forward from the new car but the hectic preparations and the fact that even during the first day of the rally the car was not yet working perfectly and I was also still getting used to it, our performance was far from where we wanted it to be. On Saturday I had quite good both longest special stages where the loss was just around one second per kilometre. We were slowed down by puncture and several driving mistakes but I felt more comfortable and sure compared to Friday leg. On Sunday there was nothing to fight for and we were just securing our 10th place, getting the car to the finish on the safe side. We were quite early on the road and there was a lot of loose gravel. Overall the stages here in north of Portugal were very slippery and rough. The atmosphere was fantastic, particularly today on legendary Fafe special stage. Now we have to work hard towards Sardinia. New car is really good with fantastic new engine and transmissions but I have to learn and adjust my driving style to it. We have to do more testing before Sardinia; one single day will not be enough. There is a big potential in the car but we have to learn how to get it from it.“
Manager Quirin Müller said: „We are happy to be over the last two crazy weeks and let the one point be at least small satisfaction for us all and hopefully also for our fans. We came through some difficult moments and there has been really lot of hard work of the whole team to get the car to the finish of this demanding rally. I am happy that guys took it easy today and were not making big things for spectators on the Fafe jumps. The overall loss per kilometre is not much worse than in Argentina but our plans and expectations were simply more optimistic. We have to focus on Sardinia now. There we have to get back to our pace and rhythm and make the crowds of Czech fans happy.“
World Rally Championship continues with its six event on Mediterranean gravel from 11th to 14th of June.
Overall results of Vodafone Rally de Portugal 2015
1. Latvala J. – Anttila M. (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:30:35,3
2. Ogier S. – Ingrassia J. (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +8,2
3. Mikkelsen A. – Fløene O. (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +28,6
4. Meeke K. – Nagle P. (Citroën DS3 WRC) +48,7
5. Tänak O. – Molder R. (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:56,8
6. Sordo D. – Martí M. (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:27,9
7. Østberg M. – Andersson J. (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:32,2
8. Paddon H. – Kennard J. (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:54,3
9. Kubica R. – Szczepaniak M. (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:39,1
10.PROKOP M. – TOMÁNEK J. (FORD FIESTA RS WRC) +7:31,2