Munchi's Team have successful debut The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team completed a successful debut at the 2007 Uddeholm Swedish Rally this weekend. Both drivers gained an enormous amount of experience completing every stage of the rally as they...
Munchi's Team have successful debut
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team completed a successful debut at the 2007 Uddeholm Swedish Rally this weekend. Both drivers gained an enormous amount of experience completing every stage of the rally as they begin their quest in the World Rally Championship.
The leading crew of Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta set some impressive times finishing the rally in 15th position, two places better than they achieved at this event last year. Juan Pablo Raies/Jorge Perez Companc had a difficult event, struggling with the road conditions and eventually being excluded by the event stewards for only wearing one driving glove during the final 1.9 kilometre test.
Once again Uddeholm Swedish Rally proved a test for drivers as temperatures on the final day dropped as low as minus-25 degrees in the Hagfors forestry regions. Glare from present sunshine over the last two days made finding lines in the snow difficult with many drivers opting to use yellow tinted glasses to help define corners during stages.
As a result of the overall classifications from leg 2, Perez Companc was first on the road today, given the job of sweeping the stages of the loose snow from overnight falls. This proved a hard test for the Argentinean but still managed to set very respectable times, including his best stage finish of fifth on the 1.9 kilometre Karlstad super special.
Unfortunately for the Munchi's Ford team driver, a manufacturer point was just one spot away as he finished ninth manufacturer crew behind Spaniard Dani Sordo. Being so close to a manufacturer point and bringing the car home without a mark on it, on a foreign surface to the South American, is a remarkable effort given his limited experience.
During his first rally on snow, team-mate Raies did extremely well to bring the number twelve Munchi's Ford Focus RS 06 safely home after quite an eventful rally for the 36-year-old. Raies showed great improvement as the event progressed with an impressive best stage position of sixth on the 1.9 kilometre Karlstad super special stage, in this his first lesson in becoming an experienced WRC driver.
However this stage was also to claim Raies as he failed to meet the event safety requirements of wearing two driving gloves during competition. While changing tyres after stage 19, Raies lost one of his gloves and had to drive the short final test with only one.
Raies struggled with his pace notes during the event admitting he had written them too fast and was coming into corners too quick and scaring himself, resulting in a lack of confidence. After making corrections, the South American improved on the final leg of the rally as he started to feel comfortable with his notes.
Both drivers were immensely impressed with the way the car handled and the amount of grip it could produce on the ice/snow surface. After seeing what the car could manage on such a tricky surface this weekend, the two crews are excited ahead of a campaign that will take them to a diverse range of surfaces including rough gravel at their home country of Argentina in May.
With one event and a full event's miles under their belt, the pair will head to Mexico confident on a more familiar surface as they face round two of the Munchi's ten round 2007 campaign.
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"Everything went well today, the car is great and my driving is good. Running first on the road is not a major problem, ok it's a bit more slippery, but not as bad as it could be. I'm happy with today, I know my times were good during the rally and it's a good start to the year for all of us in the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team. It was really great to finally finish the race this afternoon and I really enjoyed the rally.
"Sometimes it was difficult on the very narrow sections and I really had to be careful, it is so easy to get sucked into the snow banks and we were nearly caught out a few times. But generally the event has been really good for me, the car always felt great and it gives me a lot of confidence. We are now going to my preferred driving surface, gravel in Mexico. I'm really looking forward to this as I have some experience of the car on gravel from last year."
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Juan Pablo Raies said:
"This is my first time on snow and I came here to learn the rally, the roads and how to drive on this surface. Ok we had some problems with the pace notes not being exactly right, maybe I will have to ask some advice from Luis but overall I am happy with my performance. We knew it would be difficult, but I think it was not so bad; as I was getting used to the surface it started to feel better and more comfortable.
"I'm disappointed with being excluded though but it is one of those things. I made a genuine mistake. We were changing tyres before the last stage and when I went for my gloves again, I only had one. There's not much I can do, it is the rules."