Long-standing World Rally Championship privateer Martin Prokop has walked away from the series following the five-minute penalty he was handed ahead of the Rally Italy start.The transmission seals on the Jipocar Czech National Team’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC were broken, contravening championship regulations.
Team manager Quirin Muller said he had no problem with the rule, just the implementation – arguing they had done exactly the same, with the full knowledge of the FIA, and not been penalised in Portugal.
The private team only has a limited number of transmissions, which means they have to break the seals to repair them between rallies.
Muller told Autosport: “It’s unfair. This destroyed Martin’s race.
“They could suspend the penalty, but not this.
“We are a private team, we’re not fighting for the podium.
“This showed us that privateers are not needed in this championship.”
Prokop, who has started 117 rounds of the WRC and won the 2009 Junior title, finished 11th last weekend but would have been challenging for eighth without the penalty in Sardinia.
He said it had soured his feelings towards the WRC and he would now concentrate on his second Dakar Rally bid.
“All we needed was a conversation [with the FIA],” said Prokop.
“I have some other projects and this has changed my mind a little bit, I don’t want to be here anymore.
“So I will work on the Dakar car. We will do some more testing and then I try to do a cross-country event at the end of August to get ready.”
FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen admitted the case had raised the need for change.
“The regulation is clear and that is why this decision has been taken,” he said.
“The stewards have notified the competitor that if there is any new evidence, of course, we will revisit the case afterwards, which is allowed by the International Sporting Code.
“I understand the competitor and their frustration.
“This case confirms my personal view that we cannot have the same policy for the privateers and manufacturers.
“We will revisit the restrictions like the system of links for next year.”