Munchi's crew face tricky Tarmac test in France A new co-driver, a new rally location and Federico Villagra's first all-Tarmac event in twelve months could make this year's Rallye de France the most challenging FIA World Rally Championship...
Munchi's crew face tricky Tarmac test in France
A new co-driver, a new rally location and Federico Villagra's first all-Tarmac event in twelve months could make this year's Rallye de France the most challenging FIA World Rally Championship round to date for the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team.
However, the Munchi's crew will need to adapt quickly to all of those circumstances in order to close the one point gap on Henning Solberg who is ahead in the overall Drivers' Standings.
France is the third asphalt round of this year's WRC, but after missing the previous Tarmac events in Bulgaria and Germany Villagra will be looking to take full advantage of a pre-event test in the Ford Focus RS WRC in order to get a feel for the sealed surface as quickly as possible.
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team will also face another challenge next week as Villagra's regular co-driver, Jorge Perez Companc, is unable to contest the 11th round of the WRC due to other commitments. Diego Curletto will replace Companc as Villagra's co-driver in France and Jose Diaz will act as Villagra's co-driver at Rallye de España.
Curletto embarked on his co-driving career in 1998 and has been Villagra's co-driver in Argentina since 2006 -- successfully winning three National Championships and twice winning the N4 class at Rally Argentina.
Despite not contesting an all-Tarmac WRC event since 2009, Villagra will be aiming to improve on his previous result on asphalt when he finished eighth at last year's RACC Rallye de España.
The Tour de Corse has been part of the FIA World Rally Championship since 1973 and quickly gained a fearsome reputation for its mountainous route, while its tricky asphalt stages earned it the nickname "the rally of 10,000 corners."
However, 2010 marks a big change for the French round of the WRC as France's governing body of motorsport, the FFSA, took the decision to move the event from the island of Corsica to a new base in the Alsace region, near the German border and close to France's ninth-biggest city, Strasbourg.
The new location for this year's French WRC round was formerly a French Championship event which was last run in May 2009. This year's Rallye de France is only one of two events this year which is eligible for all three WRC support championships: the J-WRC, P-WRC and S-WRC.
Next week's Rallye de France will kick off on Thursday 30 September with a ceremonial start at Place Kleber - the largest square in the centre of Strasbourg. However, the first full day of action will commence on Friday 1 October and consists of a repeat loop of four stages totaling 145.86 km based south-west of the service park, Strasbourg Zenith. It will also include a remote service at Mulhouse after Grand Ballon 1 (SS4).
Saturday will feature eight stages covering 149.22 km which will be based south-west of the service park. The Munchi's crew will also have to tackle the longest stage of the rally on Saturday, the 35.48 km Pays d'Ormont (SS11 and SS15).
The final day of Rallye de France features a repeat loop of two stages which consists of a short 4.20 km test (SS17 and SS20) followed by a longer 24.70 km stage.
Argentine Rally Championship News
Villagra finished fourth at last weekend's Rally de San Luis and is currently placed second in the Argentine Rally Championship - just three points off snatching first position from Gabriel Pozzo. There are now just three rounds remaining in this year's Argentine Rally Championship and Villagra is hoping to close the gap on Pozzo to try and clinch his ninth victory at his home championship.
Munchi's Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
"I'm delighted to welcome Diego as my co-driver in the WRC -- we've competed in many rallies together in our home country of Argentina and the stages will be new to every WRC co-driver so this will make it a fair rally for everyone. I haven't driven the [Ford] Focus on Tarmac since October last year so it could take a bit of getting used to handling the car on the different road surface but we've got a test planned for Monday so I'm hoping that will help build my confidence. I've been informed that the stages are very varied for this event, I think this will make set-up extremely important each day so we will have to work hard as a team to ensure this doesn't affect our performance."