Munchi's aim to make mark on Portugal debut The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team are hoping to make their mark on the Vodafone Rally de Portugal after the disappointment of missing out on the event two years ago when the team were forced to ...
Munchi's aim to make mark on Portugal debut
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team are hoping to make their mark on the Vodafone Rally de Portugal after the disappointment of missing out on the event two years ago when the team were forced to withdraw from the rally just four days before it was due to begin.
In 2007 team members Luis and Jorge Perez Companc had to make a transatlantic dash when their brother was involved in a life-threatening accident as his car left the track at high speed while racing in the USA; forcing the Munchi's Ford WRT to pull out of the event. So for Munchi's driver Federico Villagra it will be his first time driving at the Rally de Portugal.
Villagra showed some good pace on the gravel stages and scored two championship points in Cyprus, his first WRC event of the season, and the team are looking to continue that form in the 43rd Rally de Portugal.
The rally covers 361 kilometres through the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo regions of the south of the country combining fast, open stretches with more technical and challenging stages. With the weather expected to be mild it is likely that road conditions will be similar for most drivers regardless of their start position which will provide a level playing field for those taking part.
With his regular co-driver Jorge Perez Companc unavailable for this rally, Villagra will be joined in the car by fellow Argentine Jose Diaz. The pair have teamed up for WRC events in the past with Diaz taking on co-driving duties for Villagra at Rally Japan in 2007 where they finished in seventh place scoring valuable points for the team. Diaz also joined Barry Clark on his Munchi's debut at Rally Jordan last year and has recently accompanied Villagra during a pre-season test in the UK.
The drivers will receive a warm welcome on Thursday night as the rally gets underway with a spectacular 2.2km Super Special stage in the Algarve Stadium which is expected to attract around 20,000 fans to cheer on the crews as they race side by side on a track specially designed for the race.
The rally then heads north of the Service Area at the Algarve Stadium into the hills of the Baixo Alentejo as day one gets underway on Friday with the 23.43km SS2 Ourique 1. With all of the stages repeated over the course of the rally the drivers can expect to encounter rough and rocky roads which will provide testing conditions for the Pirelli Scorpion tyres that have served them well so far this season.
Day two features the longest stage of the weekend, the 27.18km Almodovar test, high in the hills north of the Service Park. Day three's challenge is the highest stage of the rally, SS14 Loule, which will take the crews to an altitude of 350 metres before they return to the Algarve Stadium for a final Super Special stage.
With his home WRC round of Rally Argentina looming large on the calendar, seven-time Argentine champion Villagra will be keen to return home with even more championship points under his belt.
Munchi's Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
"Portugal will be a new experience for me but we had a fantastic start to the season in Cyprus so I am quietly confident for the rally next week. It was very encouraging to score both driver and manufacturer points on our first outing and obviously our main aim for Portugal is to learn the rally and pick up some more points. I think some of the roads might be quite similar to back home in Argentina so hopefully I can put my experience of my home championship to good effect. It would be great for us to get a nice result here ahead of my home WRC rally in Argentina next month and give the local fans something to cheer about and cheer the Munchi's team on."