04 Jun 08
Following four consecutive points-scoring events in this year’s World Rally Championship, a series of mechanical problems prevented the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team making it five in a row in Greece.
The Munchi’s driving squad for the Acropolis consisted of Argentinean National Champion Federico Villagra and the renowned Greek competitor Aris Vovos. But despite their championship winning form and local knowledge, neither finished inside the top ten.
Villagra’s pre-event preparations were complicated by a change of co-drivers when his regular partner, Jorge Perez Companc, was forced to stay home in Argentina for personal reasons. Instead, Jose Maria Volta - who usually partners Luis Perez Companc - stepped in to read the notes.
Villagra began well, however, and held sixth place after SS10 but on stage 11 his Ford Focus succumbed to the rough conditions and he retired 10km from the start with left-hand rear suspension damage. He rejoined Saturday’s competition as a Superally entrant and went on to finish 13th - one place adrift of the last manufacturers’ point.
“The stages were very rough - especially on the second pass - and that’s why we had our problem with the broken suspension,” said Villagra. “But that issue aside, I’m happy with my times. We had a reasonably problem free rally and I think we have improved well - which should really help with the next rally being so close.
I remembered some of the stages from last year which helped, especially when we were making our pacenotes and I hope that we will also be able to continue this good feeling with the car on the next round.”
Making a one-off appearance for the Munchi’s team, Aris Vovos and co-driver ‘El-Em’ had an uncomfortable start when the cockpit of their car filled with dust. Vovos ended the first day 13th but retired early on Saturday with broken steering.
“We started off quite steadily but the dust in the car meant it was difficult to concentrate,” said Vovos. “But our times were getting better throughout Friday and we had got close to the top-10. We were going well on Saturday until the steering came loose on the first stage. We tried to make repairs but then in the second stage it just became impossible to drive. The conditions were very rough especially on the first stage on Saturday and I’m not surprised that many drivers also had problems.”
The next rally in the Munchi’s 10 event WRC campaign will be the Rally of Turkey where Villagra will again be the team’s lead driver. This time, however, he will be joined by Scotsman Barry Clark who contested his first ever WRC event in a World Rally Car on April’s Jordan Rally.