26 Mar 08
After its two cars finished fifth and seventh on Rally Mexico, the Argentinean-owned Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team is hoping to give the home crowd something else to cheer about on round four of the 2008 WRC series.
Rally Argentina is the second of 10 events the Munchi’s team will contest this year and marks the return of the team’s co-owner Luis Perez Companc to the driver’s seat after Henning Solberg deputised on Rally Mexico.
With Companc out of a rally car since Wales Rally GB last December he recently undertook a one and a half day test in the Greystoke forest near the team’s base in Cumbria, England. It was the first time he had sampled the latest evolution of the Ford Focus RS WRC07 and dry conditions gave him a good opportunity to experiment with set-ups for the Argentinean gravel roads.
But despite the encouraging test, Companc says the pressure to perform in front of his home crowd is giving him some cause for concern. “I am very anxious about this rally because I know how important it is to represent Argentina and show ourselves driving a car of the highest level of the WRC in our home event,” he said. “Last year we had such a warm reception from the fans cheering us on and it really did make a big difference for us. We had some problems on the event last year but the final day was very good and our times showed this. This will be my first event back in a car since GB last year so it will take a little bit to get used to competition again. The test should help a lot as the conditions were dry and we managed to get quite a few kilometres done.”
In the team’s other Ford Focus RS WRC is Federico Villagra; resident of Villa Carlos Paz and Argentine Rally Champion in 2006 and 2007. Villagra’s 2008 WRC season got off to a great start with seventh place on Rally Mexico, while his defence of the national title began perfectly with victory on the first round in Cordoba.
“Scoring drivers’ points in Mexico is a huge boost for me coming into Rally Argentina which is based in my home town,” said Villagra. “It is always good to have a winning car that is why we are confident of having a good rally in Argentina. The idea is to score points for the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships using the experience that we have on this rally, especially now we are ahead of Suzuki in the standings. This will be the first time on my home event in a world rally car and I have lots of friends and family in Villa Carlos Paz so I am very excited about starting the event.”