Prokop takes surprise Rally Italy lead

Prokop takes surprise Rally Italy lead
By AutoSport

12/06/2015 at 03:24Updated

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 Pirellis 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.

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