21 May 08
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team took two Manufacturers’ Championship points from Rally d’Italia Sardegna, to move slightly ahead of Suzuki in the title standings.
But the event wasn’t a great success for the two car squad of Henning Solberg and Federico Villagra, and both struggled to match the results they had achieved on previous rallies this year.
Solberg was the team’s best performer, and brought his Ford Focus RS WRC over the finish podium in seventh, to collect two points. But after a fourth on the previous rally in Jordan, the Norwegian said he had struggled to adapt to the Sardinian roads.
“I never really quite got into this event and struggled for most of it to discover a good setting for the car,” said Solberg. “I couldn’t find a comfortable rhythm on the stages as they are extremely difficult and there are so many rocks at the side of the road to catch you out.”
Solberg explained that a lack of seat time in the Focus meant he was testing for the forthcoming two gravel rallies, as well as competing, in Italy. “For me it was important to not make mistakes and get more experience of the car on gravel roads, he said. “We don’t get a chance to test so the time on the stages is vital to get a good feeling. With Greece and Turkey so close after this rally, I wanted to finish here with no problems and take the information on our set-up to help improve our pace on the next rally.”
Federico Villagra was 14th in the team’s other Ford Focus, a long way behind the sixth he claimed in Jordan and Argentina. But despite the disappointing overall placing, the Argentine insisted his speed had improved.
“It has been a tough, but good, rally for us,” said Villagra. “This was the event where I started for Munchi’s last year and on the recce we made all of our pacenotes faster, which just shows how much our pace has improved from last year. The car was great and my main focus was to complete the event without any problems. In the end we achieved what we wanted and the confidence is good for the next event.”
The Munchi’s will be in action again on the next WRC round - Acropolis Rally of Greece - where local driver Aris Vovos will partner Villagra as the team’s second points’ scorer.