Munchi's end positive WRC debut
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team has capped off a successful debut year in the FIA World Rally Championship at this weekend's Wales Rally GB. This year the all-Argentine team has displayed great improvement to finish sixth in the manufacturers' championship with 14 points.
After a solid run over the opening two days Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta were dealt a cruel blow on the final day; sliding off the road on the opening stage and into rally retirement.
Team-mates Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc finished top for the Munchi's team in 18th position after a mixed event and difficult final stage on day one.
With a damaged left-hand light and a mud filled right-hand one, Villagra drove the fog-covered, night-time Rheola 2 stage almost blind. This resulted in the loss of over nine minutes after having to crawl round the 28 kilometre test while battling to see the road.
On his first visit to Wales, Companc was on the go from stage 1 constantly setting top-15 stage times until his unfortunate retirement from the event on leg 3. An 'off' right on the last corner of stage 14 this morning saw the Argentine heavily damage the driver's side door on his Munchi's Ford Focus RS WRC06.
This damage to the roll cage was sufficient to force the crew into retirement, leaving the Argentine crew with a DNF result on their first Rally GB attempt.
Weather conditions throughout the weekend made things extremely difficult with all the elements being thrown at the field from fog and rain to gale force winds and icy roads. The event also provided two night-time stages which, for both Munchi's drivers, was the first time either had attempted a stage in full darkness.
The 360 kilometres of competitive distance ran over 17 stages from Service Park in Swansea. This included one pass of the ever-popular Millennium Stadium super special in Cardiff which hosted over 26,000 spectators who were treated to a four-wheel display from the world's best.
This year the Munchi's Ford WRT has been competing in a ten event campaign tackling several rallies for the first time.
By the end of this year Companc has finished 16th in the drivers championship while Villagra's mid-year enlisting has seen him finish 20th after a strong performance in Japan in October.
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"This has been a very difficult rally but I was told it was going to be like this so I knew what to expect. It is very fast and very muddy and one little mistake could mean a big accident. Leg one's stages were very muddy and there was lots of fog which made it even harder for us because this is a brand new event and the notes are very new; but to drive in fog you need very precise notes to give you confidence. Saturday was a much better day for us and it was great that the weather was nowhere near as bad as Friday; this made things a lot easier.
"I was first on the road on Saturday which was not the best over the first pass of stages because I had no lines to follow. The second pass over stages however was much easier because I had the lines to follow and the roads were not so rough. On the last corner of stage 14 I was confused by my pacenote and came into the corner too quickly and ran wide and hit a tree on my side of the car. The damage was quite bad that we had to retire at the end of the stage. The Focus has been great and we have been on good tyres all weekend."
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
"This has been another very difficult event and the weather did not help at all but we are very happy to be here and at the finish-line. The last stage on Friday was my first ever night stage and what an experience it was. My lights were not working properly as I had damaged one of them the stage before and the other was full of mud so it was extremely difficult; I was driving round in first gear quite a bit as it was almost impossible to see anything especially with the rain and fog. It is good to get experience of things like this though.
"Being a new rally it can be difficult and it really required a lot of experience of the roads but our notes have been working fine and we managed to get through every stage which is the most important thing. Saturday and Sunday were a lot more fun for me and I think I improved my driving quite a bit. We had some trouble with the lights on the last stage on Saturday as they were probably too high for me. It was definitely a new experience all-round but I am happy to finish and looking forward to next year's season."