Germany : Citroen C2 Junior Experience - Finish
A Citroen C2 Super 1600 won the Rallye Deutschland for the third consecutive year. Following on from Dani Sordo in 2005 and Kris Meeke in 2006, Martin Prokop claimed the German event this year having dominated all three days.
Conrad Rautenbach, driving for the PH Sport team, was also on the podium.
The C2 Super 1600 drivers put on a perfect show throughout the rally. Between them, Prokop, Rautenbach and Burkart set 15 fastest stage times out of a possible 19 – and they were classified first, third and fourth at the end of every leg. Martin Prokop – who said "I was crossing my fingers all the way to the finish" – ended up 49.5 seconds in front of his key rival Urmo Aava. Conrad Rautenbach was held back by an uncertain feeling with his brakes, particularly during the second leg, but returned to top form on the final day. He sealed his podium place with three fastest stage times on Sunday. Local hero Aaron Burkart was fourth, just over two minutes behind Conrad.
Yves Matton, Citroen Sport's customer competition manager, drew a positive conclusion from the rally. "Just as was the case in the WRC section, the Super 1600 C2s have dominated the action here in Germany. Three different drivers have won this event now with the C2, which underlines the performance of the machinery as much as that of its drivers. We're very pleased that Martin has managed to win the first asphalt event of the year.
Now he has a good chance of an excellent final placing in the championship, thanks to the two asphalt rallies that are still to come. Conrad and Aaron also showed themselves capable of running at the front by setting several fastest stage times."
In the C2-R2 category, Yoann Bonato added another top performance to his record of achievement by taking his second consecutive R2 victory in the C2 Junior Experience. Despite brake and transmission problems during the first two days, the Frenchman got safely to the finish in style. "This rally has been a very positive experience for us," said Yoann. "To set the same sort of times as a Super 1600 car with just a Citroen C2-R2 is very satisfying." Yoann was seventh amongst the Juniors, once more scoring points in the overall championship.
"Here again, Yoann has confirmed his potential," said Yves Matton. "He was able to get the best out of the C2-R2 on tarmac by setting some excellent stage times. Tarmac was always going to be the surface where he performed at his best, and he was able to soak up the pressure well. He was also capable of defending his position from drivers with a lot more experience of this rally."
Irish driver Shaun Gallagher was second of the R2 crews and 10th overall in the Junior classification. Although it was only Gallagher's first visit to this rally, he was satisfied with his performance. "Shaun drove a very intelligent rally, bearing in mind the championship," commented Yves Matton.
After some setbacks during leg two, Gilles Schammel started off strongly this morning and posted some good times – although they were not quite enough to haul him back up the overall leaderboard. He was third of the C2-R2 runners and 13th of the Juniors. The Kronos Junior Team's second driver, Raphael Auquier, had nothing but problems throughout all three days. He retired definitively this morning, with a broken clutch cable on his C2. "Gilles and Raphael have shown their speed throughout the rally," concluded Yves Matton. "Now they just need to refine their driving styles in order to avoid punctures. They are definitely ones to watch in the rallies to come."
Stefano Benoni was 14th in the final C2-R2. Having lost time after going off the road during leg one, the Italian drove consistently over the last two days to end the rally on a positive note.