28 Feb 08
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will start its 2008 WRC campaign on Rally Mexico. As in 2007, the team will contest ten championship rallies this year under manufacturer team status.
Federico Villagra and co-driver Jorge Pèrez Companc are back again for this year’s challenge. In Mexico they will be partnered by Henning Solberg and co-driver Cato Menkerud who are standing in for Luis Perez Companc, the co-owner of the Argentinean ice-cream franchise, who will take part on only three rounds in 2008 due to business and other motorsport commitments.
This will be Villagra’s first attempt at Rally Mexico although he is no stranger to rallying in the Americas. Last year he finished ninth overall on his home rally in Argentina, winning the GpN class. Known by his nickname ‘Coyote’, Villagra won the Argentine Rally Championship in 2006 and 2007 and will defend his title in 2008 alongside his WRC campaign.
“I know this is a difficult rally which can be very hard on the drivers and maybe even harder for me being my first time here,” said Villagra. “It will be great to have Henning in the team, he has experience of this event and has done well in the past so I will take all the information I can from him. This will also be my first time behind the wheel of a Focus WRC07 and I am really looking towards driving it. It has had a lot of success over the last year and I think it will be a great experience having the opportunity to drive it. I did a lot of rallies last year in both the WRC and at home in Argentina so I think this will help with my challenge this year and with the feeling in the car.”
Solberg moves into the place vacated by Luis Perez Companc and becomes the first non-Argentine driver ever to score points for the team. This will be the Norwegian’s third attempt at an event on which he had mixed fortunes, but on both occasions finished inside the top-ten.
Yet to score a drivers’ point this year, Solberg was running third overall on the most recent rally in Sweden before a crash brought his event to a premature end.
“I’m looking forward to this rally and getting back onto gravel, said Solberg. “I have a very good feeling now after Sweden because we were very quick there. I think I can do quite well here and I will be aiming for the top-three because I have a very good road position on Friday and if it doesn’t rain it will help me a lot. I have been doing some more training for this event because it can be very demanding on the body especially with the thin air. I struggled a bit last year with feeling because of the engine power loss with the altitude but this year we have a 2007 Focus so we will see what this does. I am going to try my best here and hopefully we can finish in the points.”