WRC Italy: Martin Prokop takes surprise lead after superspecial win

Martin Prokop scored a shock stage win to open Rally Italy in Sardinia, scoring only his second World Rally Championship stage victory

The privateer driver is on Pirelli's tyres, whereas the majority of the other WRC cars run Michelin rubber.

Prokop will begin Friday's running leading a WRC round for the first time in his career after conquering the dusty asphalt superspecial.

Dani Sordo got the closest to Prokop - after topping the earlier shakedown stage - with Andreas Mikkelsen third.

Thierry Neuville bounced back from a couple of poor rounds to put himself fourth, with Ott Tanak rounding out the top five.

Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke went head to head in the final battle of the WRC runners, with the pair earlier engaged in a verbal battle over Ogier's pre-rally gripes.

Ogier could only manage seventh, while Meeke clipped a bail marking one of the tricky hairpin bends leaving him 10th.

Robert Kubica was slower than a number of WRC2 cars as he struggled with a downshift entering the same hairpin that hampered Meeke. The pole ended up 16th.

Much to the disappointment of the home fans, Lorenzo Bertelli also struggled in the same hairpin, having to reverse to make his way around the tight section. He only ended up one place above Kubica.

Esapekka Lappi was the class of the WRC2 field in the new Skoda Fabia R5.

Lappi managed second in WRC2 on the car's debut last time out on Rally Portugal, and went one better to set out his intentions for Italy by heading reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah by 2.2 seconds.

Follow Rally Italy as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 7am UK time on Friday


Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Martin Prokop, J.Tomanek Jipocar Czech National Team Ford 2m23.7s
2 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1.3s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen, O.Floene Volkswagen Motorsport II Volkswagen 1.7s
4 Ott Tanak, R.Molder M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2.9s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2.9s
6 Mads Ostberg, J.Andersson Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3.3s
7 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 3.4s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 3.4s
9 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 4.7s
9 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 4.7s

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