Villagra scores best ever result on Tarmac Munchi's Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra scored his best ever result on Tarmac at this weekend's Rallye de France. The eight-time Argentinean Rally Champion scrapped for seventh...
Villagra scores best ever result on Tarmac
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra scored his best ever result on Tarmac at this weekend's Rallye de France.
The eight-time Argentinean Rally Champion scrapped for seventh place alongside fellow Ford Focus RS WRC driver Matthew Wilson throughout the weekend and despite not competing on asphalt since 2009, he bagged his best ever result on the slippery sealed surface. Villagra's strong seventh place finish has successfully launched him into eighth of the overall Championship Drivers' Standings, three points clear of Henning Solberg.
Villagra also faced another challenge at the newly-located Rallye de France this weekend as he was joined by Diego Curletto due to his regular co-driver being unable to attend the event. Despite a disadvantage of a new co-driver and driving on an unfamiliar road surface, the Munchi's Ford driver proved his world class rallying abilities this weekend as he quickly adapted back to handling the Ford Focus RS WRC on Tarmac.
Sixty-seven crews tackled a repeat loop of 72.93 km in the Vosges mountain for Friday's first full day of action and Villagra secured an impressive four top ten stage times during the event's opening loop. At the end of SS4, he was in ninth position - 14.1 seconds ahead of Stobart M-Sport Ford's Matthew Wilson and 17.7 seconds ahead of American rally star Ken Block. Another four top ten stage times during the repeat afternoon pass saw the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team move into eighth and successfully extended their lead over 23-year-old Wilson to 23.5 seconds.
During the second day of Rallye de France, Villagra took advantage of Raikkonen who stopped on SS10 to move up into seventh position of the overall WRC leaderboard. However, 4 km towards the end of SS11 the front right of their Ford Focus RS WRC hit a stone which cost the pair valuable time. As Villagra pulled into service D, Wilson remained hot on his tail but the Argentinean was safe in the knowledge that he was now 33.1 seconds clear of the Stobart M-Sport Ford driver.
Villagra noted the second pass of Saturday's 74.61 km loop were some of the hardest he had encountered in the WRC and during the longest stage of the rally, the Pays d'Ormont, the driver's split times noticeably suffered as he struggled to steer the Ford Focus RS WRC through the muddy road conditions and later stalled twice at a junction. A quick time from Wilson on the 35.48 km stage meant that only 0.5 seconds separated the two Ford Focus RS WRC drivers as they entered the day's final stage. However, a spin for Wilson on SS16 meant Villagra was able to finish the end of the second day 2.9 seconds clear of the Stobart driver.
The closing stages of Rallye de France on Sunday proved relatively trouble-free for Villagra and two top ten stage times sealed his seventh place finish in the overall WRC leaderboard alongside his best ever result on asphalt.
Munchi's Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
"This has been a very difficult weekend but I'm happy with our end result. It's been the first time I've competed at a WRC event on Tarmac since Spain when I finished eighth last year. The amount of rain made the Tarmac extremely slippery - I have little experience driving on those types of road conditions so it was very difficult for me. The conditions on the roads on Saturday afternoon were just unbelievable and I lost a lot of time on the long Pays d'Ormont 2 [SS15] yesterday because we had no grip and there was so much mud on the road that it made it nearly impossible to drive. I've got one round of the Argentinean Rally Championship before my next WRC round in Spain later this month and this weekend has definitely been excellent training for both events. I have really enjoyed competing alongside Diego [Curletto] in the WRC this weekend -- he's my regular co-driver in the Argentine Rally Championship but Jose Diaz will step in as my co-driver for Spain."