Munchi’s Companc confident ahead of fast-paced Finland
FIA World Rally Championship

Neste Oil Rally Finland, 2–5 August 2007

Event Preview

After scoring their maiden manufacturers’ point in Greece last month the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will be aiming to further their tally at next week’s Neste Oil Rally Finland, round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship. For both Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta and Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc this will be their first attempt at the high–speed event.

History has proven Companc performs at best on fast rallies, with his two best WRC results coming from Argentina and New Zealand, notoriously fast events. While this will be the 35–year–old’s first look at Finnish stages, his ability to perform on fast gravel roads will certainly put him in the chase for further manufacturer points and his first drivers’ point.

Now in the points, the Munchi’s WRT has been keeping sharp over the summer break with four full days of testing on both tarmac and gravel. In June both crews headed to Tarragona, Spain, for two days of tarmac work then over to Cardona, where they had two full days of testing on the loose ahead of the remaining five rounds in their 2007 ten event campaign.

Finland is a nation proud of its rallying traditions and rightfully so, it holds the record for the highest number of WRC event wins – per nationality – with a staggering 145 WRC wins spread among just 13 drivers. Along with France and the UK, Finland is the only other rally to have run every year since 1973 when the WRC was first formed.

The clean gravel event is renowned for its fast–flowing open roads and massive crests. This year over 46 percent of the rally route has changed from 2006, with some sections completely new to the WRC. The addition of chicanes has also been introduced by organisers to slow the exceedingly fast average race speeds for the safety of all involved.

Munchi’s WRT manager Martin Christie will play a vital role in the success of his team next weekend having competed on the event six times since 1990. Competing then as a co–driver, Christie will offer valuable insight as the two Argentine crews battle the Finnish roads for the first time in their careers.

Villagra has been keeping in form over the mid–season break by continuing his challenge in the Argentine National Rally Championship, which he currently leads by 18.5 points. In June the 38–year–old took overall honours on round four, Rally de Catamarca, winning the two–day, 141 kilometre event by 18.1 seconds.

Neste Oil Rally Finland is the sixth round of the Munchi’s WRT’s ten–event campaign Ė the remaining rounds also include New Zealand, Catalunya, Japan and Rally GB.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"I would very much like to score points for the team in Finland but I also know that it is not going to be so easy. For sure my experience on fast roads will help but with this being my first time in Finland I will have to be very accurate with my pace–notes because this is a very technical event. Each time you go to a new event you must pay special attention when writing the pace–notes and in this event with jumps and high speed we will try to have notes that can make us go as fast as possible. There are many local drivers that have very good knowledge of the roads and also good notes, but we will try as hard as possible. I had some winter holidays with the family over the break,doing winter sports helps to keep me in shape. The test in Spain was very positive, I had my first drive with the asphalt specification car and what really surprised me was the grip and speed levels around corners. On gravel we came up with some good solutions we hope to apply in the gravel events for the rest of the season."

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
"This is my first time in Finland so I will try to do my best and get my first point for the Munchi’s team. It will be a great experience for me to drive a fast rally and it’s always nice to race in front of lots of spectators. I think the hardest part of the rally for me will be writing good notes as I have not been here before, but if we can make some good ones I think we can challenge and hopefully get some points. I have been racing in the Argentine National Rally Championship over the break so I am ready for this rally. It was very important for me to get miles in the car and the test was a good opportunity to drive fast all the time. We had some time to change different set–ups with the car and this will really help me be quicker right from the start of the rally."

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