The Czech rally driver Martin Prokop is one of the most successful representatives of his country on the international rally scene over the last few years and also one of the best privateers in the World Rally Championship during the 2010s. Prokop's biggest success was the Junior World Rally Championship title in 2009.
Since 2011, Prokop has competed in the WRC with Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. In 2016, he tried another racing discipline and participated in Dakar Rally for the first time, finishing the race in the 14th place overall with Toyota. At 2017 Dakar Rally, he finished 11th with Ford.
Martin and Škoda Felicia
Martin Prokop was born on October 4, 1982, in Jihlava. He started rallying in 2001, driving one of the most common Czech rally cars – Škoda Felicia. During his debut season in national RallySprint and rally events, Martin switched to Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, which he drove also in 2002 season. In the mid-season, he upgraded to Evo VII.
Three seasons with Mitsubishi Lancers
In 2002, Prokop competed in two Czech rallies that were part of European Rally Championship (Rallye Šumava and Rally Zlin), but also in the Austrian Rallye Waldviertel, driving Evo VII for Czech National Rally Team. During 2003, Prokop continued to drive Lancer Evo VII at the Czech and Slovakian events.
In December 2003, he tried Škoda Octavia WRC for the first time at Pražsky Rallysprint. In 2004, Octavia was Prokop's main car and he gained his first victory, winning the Mogul Šumava Rallye in March.
2005 - first season in the Junior WRC
The season 2005 was the milestone year for Martin, as he entered the international rally scene, entering the Junior World Rally Championship. He was competing with Suzuki Ignis S1600, alongside navigator Petr Gross. Prokop's WRC debut was at 2005 Rallye Monte-Carlo, where he finished 21st overall and 9th in the JWRC category. He also participated at Wales Rally GB, which wasn't JWRC round, and also at the Czech Championship.
2006 - switch to Citroen with new co-driver
In 2006, Martin's Junior WRC career continued with Citroen C2 S1600 and new co-driver Jan Tomanek. At Rally Catalunya in March, Prokop scored his first JWRC victory. In six JWRC rounds, he collected more points than the previous year but finished 10th in the final standings. At 2006 Rallye Monte-Carlo, he took A6 class victory and finished 20th overall. Besides WRC, he participated in several international events, but without notable results.
Second class victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo
Prokop and Tomanek were again in the cockpit of Citroen C2 S1600 in 2007 JWRC season. With two wins (Germany and France) and two podiums, Prokop finished third in the points, behind PG Andersson and Urmo Aava. At 2007 Rallye Monte-Carlo, Prokop took second in a row A6 class victory. He also participated in three WRC events which weren't on the JWRC calendar (Sweden, Greece and Wales), driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Three JWRC wins in 2008, Ogier was champion
In 2008, Prokop increased the number of wins in the JWRC season to three, but it was enough just for the third place in the points, behind Sebastien Ogier and Aaron Burkart. He was the Junior class winner in Finland, Spain and France. Prokop had a double programme in 2008, participating also in six events of the Production WRC category, winning the Rally New Zealand and finishing fifth in the category.
Martin Prokop - 2009 Junior world rally champion
And then, the most successful season in a career followed. In 2009, Martin again had a double programme (JWRC and PWRC) and he was successful in both competitions, becoming the world champion in the Junior category and finishing second in the Production category.
At six JWRC events with Czech National Team's Citroen C2 S1600, Prokop was the winner of Cyprus Rally, Rally Italia Sardegna and Rally Finland. He won the title with four points advantage over Michal Kosciuszko. At six PWRC events, driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Prokop won the last two rounds in Australia and Wales and finished in the standings three points behind Armindo Araujo.
Third place in the SWRC competition two years in a row
In 2010, it was a time for an upgrade, so Martin entered the World Rally Championship with Czech Ford National Team, driving Ford Fiesta S2000, eligible for the SWRC competition. In seven rallies Prokop scored five podiums and finished third in the SWRC standings, behind Xavi Pons and Patrick Sandell. He also scored three points in the overall WRC classification, finishing ninth in Mexico and tenth in Japan. At 2010 Rally Sweden, Prokop surprisingly scored one overall stage victory, at short Hagfors Sprint.
Martin's SWRC campaign with Czech Ford National Team continued in 2011. With one victory (Mexico) and four podiums, Prokop was again third in the points, behind Juho Hanninen and Ott Tanak. In the WRC overall results, he scored his best finish so far, taking seventh place at Rally Mexico.
In the cockpit of Fiesta RS WRC since November 2011
At the last event of the 2011 season, at Wales Rally GB, the final upgrade followed and Martin stepped into the WRC machine – Ford Fiesta RS WRC. He finished 21st in the race. The next season was Prokop's first full season in the WRC competition, with Zdenek Hruza as the new co-driver. He was regular points scorer and finished among Top 10 drivers nine times in eleven events. His best result was fourth place at Rally Argentina. With 46 points and ninth in the final classification, Prokop was the second-best among privateers in the WRC.
2013 - best WRC season for Martin Prokop
In 2013 season, under the banner of the Jipocar Czech National Team and with Michal Ernst as a co-driver, Prokop had the career-best season in the World Rally Championship. He participated in all 13 rounds, scoring points eleven times. He was the closest to the podium at ADAC Rallye Deutschland, finishing fourth. At the end of the season, he had 63 points and finished ninth in the classification for the second year in a row, but this time as the best privateer.
Jan Tomanek returned to Martin's team in 2014
One more similar season followed in 2014. After the retirement at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Jan Tomanek replaced Michal Ernst on the codriver's seat from the second round. One more retirement followed in Sweden and Prokop then finished fifth at Rally Mexico, which remained his best result in 2014. He was in the points nine times, finishing ninth in the overall WRC standings.
Fourth place remained his best WRC finish
In 2015, his fourth consecutive season with Jipocar Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Prokop again finished almost every race he participated in, scoring points seven times. He repeated his career-best WRC finish with fourth place at Rally Argentina, one more time missing the podium. With 39 points, he finished 11th in the final WRC classification. During 2015, Prokop recorded two stages wins, one in Sardinia and one in Poland.
2016 - successful Dakar Rally debut for Prokop
In 2016, Prokop's priorities changed, so he announced his part-time WRC schedule and his debut participation at Dakar Rally. In January 2016, he traveled to South America and competed in the world's toughest cross-country rally race. His co-driver in the #329 Overdrive Toyota Hilux was Jan Tomanek. The Czech duo finished 14th overall.
Martin's debut in circuit racing
Prokop's another new project was his own racing team MP Sports, which entered the 12h Mugello race in March 2016. One of the Prokop's co-drivers in the #777 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 was WRC star and former F1 driver Robert Kubica.
Just three events in 2016 WRC season
In the 2016 World Rally Championship, Prokop's first event was Rally Mexico in March. As usual, he finished in the points, taking the seventh place. In the next two events, in Portugal and Sardinia, he was again among point scorers, finishing 8th and 9th.
Martin became a truck driver
In July 2016, Prokop successfully fulfilled a new challenge, competing in a truck category of the Baja Aragon, the round of the FIA Cros-Country Rally World Cup. Partnered by Jan Tomanek and Jiri Stross in the Tatra Buggyra Racing truck, Prokop finished second.
At 2017 Dakar Rally, Prokop was at the wheel of a car, not truck. He competed with Ford F-150 Evo, navigated by Ilka Minor. They finished 11th in the overall classification.
In the 2017 WRC season, he participated in two events (Portugal, Italy), driving his old Ford Fiesta RS WRC against new generation of World Rally Cars.