Event: Rally Mexico
ILLAGRA UPBEAT AFTER FINISHING TENTH IN MEXICO
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra battled back after an early retirement on Rally Mexico's opening day to finish his first FIA World Rally Championship event of 2011 tenth overall.
Villagra and fellow Argentine co-driver Jorge Perez Companc gained valuable experience on their debut in the new Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car and climbed the WRC leaderboard from 21st at the start of Day 2 to finish tenth overall, earning the squad valuable driver and manufacturer points.
The nine-time Argentine Rally Champion tore off the front right wheel from his Fiesta RS WRC when he clipped a rock on Friday's opening 26.01 km opening stage. The disappointed Munchi's Ford driver was forced to retire but his team made the necessary repairs in order for Villagra to return under SupeRally regulations on Saturday.
On Saturday's opening stage, the longest in the rally, Villagra reported problems with his brakes and stalled his Fiesta RS WRC as a result. The Argentine struggled to restart his engine and the incident cost him approximately 20 seconds.
However, the Munchi's Ford driver set three top ten stages times in the morning's three remaining stages. The brake discs and brake pads were changed at the midday service. Saturday afternoon fared much better for Villagra who posted four top ten stage times and finished the day 12th overall.
A small set-up change was made during Sunday morning's service and Villagra set a sixth-fastest stage time on the day's opening test. A broken left rear drive shaft and damaged suspension hindered the Munchi's Ford driver on the event's closing two stages but Villagra held onto a well-earned tenth place.
Federico Villagra said: "OK, so it was very disappointing that we had to retire after our mistake on Friday, especially as it was the first stage but I am very happy to have made it to the end of the rally. Today and yesterday have been very good days -- we enjoyed the roads and of course, it was good to get some experience in the car. We made a lot of adjustments and changes to the ride height to try and find the perfect set-up which I think will help for future events. I've got my first round of the Argentine Rally Championship next weekend and then I will fly straight out to Portugal. I'll be looking to push a bit more over there -- we know the roads there well and I think the experience we have learned from the car this weekend will help us greatly."