Martin Prokop: In Sweden we will go fast and aggressive
Last weekend Czech Ford National Team moved to Scandinavia where has been culminating their preparation for Swedish Rally. The opening round of World Rally Championship begins in Karlstad, Sweden, on February 11
evening. Reigning Junior World Rally Champion Martin Prokop with his co-driver Jan Tomanek and a brand new Ford Fiesta S2000 will make their step up to the new Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) for drivers, which will use Super 2000 cars, the new technical category on which the 2011 World Rally Cars will be based.
After making way for Rally Norway last year, Rally Sweden returns with star billing in 2010 as the opening round and the only true winter rally of the WRC season. Driving at close to 200 kilometres an hour on snow, might seem to defy the laws of physics, but the hundreds of metal studs on each tyre ensure they bite into the ice and produce some of the most spectacular driving of the year. The event also features snow banks which drivers use as soft barriers on which to 'lean' their cars around corners. They hit the snow bank, get the support from there and keep going. There are plenty of hazards, though: if driver hits a snow bank too hard or in the wrong speed, it sucks the car back in and then the game is over.
Because of the ban of holding test sessions in a host country three weeks before the start of the event, Czech Ford National Team did their Sunday's test in Norway, near the Swedish border. The special stage's character was pretty similar to a nature of Swedish special stages.
On Monday Martin Prokop and Jan Tomanek participated in the official pre-event testing held in Sweden. However, their Ford Fiesta was the only one S2000 car in the official test session.
Martin Prokop: "On Sunday, we had the private test, in which we had Marcus Gronholm
's set-up data at disposal. It was great to have them for comparison. We tuned the set-up to suit me and also the car. On Monday, we participated together with another crews and also Czechs at the official test held in Sweden. It was shame, the conditions on the special stage changed after few passes, so hardly to compare.
In Sweden, there is not so much snow as it was in previous season in Norway. But it is freezing. I expect that ruts may arise, and maybe in the second loops we will get through ice and snow to the gravel. However, the gravel should stay frozen, so I'm not afraid of mud.
What about my expectations? We will see after couple of special stages. After the test we know, we should be faster than production cars, but we will see how we compare with competition of Scandinavian drivers behind the wheels of S2000 cars. But certainly, we will go to enjoy the ride. It means fast and little bit aggressive, exactly what Fiesta likes."
On Tuesday and Wednesday crews will participate in reconnaissance. On Thursday, February 11, the shakedown will be held, and on 20:04 the event will start with super special stage in Karlstad. Swedish rally contains 21 super stages (343 kilometres). Results will be known on Sunday, February 14 after 15:00.