Villagra’S Battle With Raikkonen Heats Up As WRC Moves To Greece
Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra is aiming to increase his lead over his closest rival in the WRC Drivers’ Standings, Kimi Räikkönen, at [this] week’s Acropolis Rally of Greece.
At the most recent FIA World Rally Championship round in his home country Argentina, Villagra moved ahead of the 2007 Formula One Champion in the standings whilst simultaneously posting his best result of the year so far in Ford’s Fiesta RS WRC.
The nine-time Argentine Rally Champion is currently two points ahead of Räikkönen, and Munchi’s Ford six ahead of the Finn’s Team Ice 1 Racing in the Manufacturer’s Standings. With Villagra due to skip upcoming events Rally Finland and Rallye Deutschland, a strong finish next week is vital to ensure the experienced South American retains his place within the top eight.
Regular co-driver Jorge Pérez Companc is unable to attend the event in Greece due to business commitments, so Villagra will be joined in the co-driver’s seat by José Diaz.
Villagra and Diaz have already enjoyed success in Greece in the past – in 2009 the duo posted the best ever result for Munchi’s Ford with a fourth place finish. It will also be the fourth time that Villagra has contested what is usually one of the hottest, gruelling and most physically challenging events in the WRC calendar, so his past experience should help the pair prepare for the tricky event.
This year’s Acropolis Rally of Greece will begin with a ceremonial start under the Rock of the Acropolis on Thursday evening in Athens. Friday’s stages will see the Munchi’s Ford crew travel north where they will tackle a set of stages close to Mount Kallidromon. There will also be a remote service at Kamena Vourla.
Saturday’s stages remain largely unaltered from 2009 but there will be a new 17.71 km night stage. Two stages, close to the rally base in Loutraki will be run twice on Sunday while the first 4 km Aghii Theodori stage will be host to the event’s Power Stage.
Greece will be Villagra’s last WRC event until Rally Australia in September. Over the summer break the Munchi’s Ford driver will be contesting events in his home championship, including
Rally de Catamarca which runs from 24 – 26 June.
Federico Villagra said:
“Greece is one of the most challenging rallies in the WRC, but it’s been an event that has gone well for me in the past so hopefully we should get a good result next week. I found a good feeling in the car in Argentina – we made a lot of small changes over the first couple of days so I’d like to find the right set-up for this event no problem. The heat is always a difficult factor at this rally, it definitely makes concentration difficult and you need to remember to drink a lot of water as you sweat so much in the car. Many of the stages in Greece have loose gravel and bedrock so finding a good traction is another difficulty we will have to try and manage next week. In some places the speed of the stages changes a lot and it’s hard to find a nice flow and to concentrate, but I’d really like to find a comfortable pace from the beginning and I really hope to get another top-five finish there again.”