Munchi’s back on track for penultimate attack
FIA World Rally Championship

Rally Japan, 26-28 October 2007

Event Preview

The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will be back on a familiar surface next week as they tackle the penultimate round of their 2007 ten–event campaign at Rally Japan. This 14th round of the FIA World Rally Championship is an event which both Munchi’s drivers will be competing on for the second time in their careers.

Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta put in a strong performance here last year when they helped team–mate, at the time, Matthew Wilson debut the new Ford Focus RS WRC06 for their team. Companc was set for a top–ten finish, setting stage times as high as fourth fastest, but a torn–off wheel on the final day relegated him to eleventh.

Federico Villagra’s only previous attempt at this rally was back in 2005 when the event was run for the second time under WRC status. Unfortunately the Argentine retired from the event on the final day while running fourth in the GpN PWRC category and is hoping for a better result next weekend when he is partnered by regular co–driver Jorge Perez Companc.

Both drivers have good experience of the rally and will be hoping to add to the Munchi’s Ford WRT manufacturer points tally with a return to the fast gravel stages. Companc and Villagra are yet to score in the drivers’ championship and will be hungry for a point with just two world championship rounds left for the pair.

Rally Japan will again be based in the northern island of Hokkaido with Rally Headquarters planted in the town of Obihiro. Conditions at base–camp are set to be cool but temperatures at higher points of the event are predicted to be very cold and snow may be a factor this year.

The stages in Japan are comprised of fast and narrow gravel roads which can become extremely slippery especially if rain comes into the equation. Low to medium–wearing BF Goodrich g–Force gravel tyres will be used on this event with an allowance limit of 35 to be used in competition, one of the lowest amounts for the 2007 season.

The Service Park and overnight Parc Ferme will be at the Kita Aikoku Community Square located about 6 kilometres south of central Obihiro. The route covers a total of 350 competitive kilometres over a massive 27 stages.

While the WRC hit the shores of Corsica last week, Villagra was busy contesting his national championship in Argentina at Rally de Concepcion del Uruguay. With a dominant performance he won the event by over 20 seconds and still comfortably leads the national championship with only two rounds remaining.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"I like the rally in Japan as the stages are fast, good to drive and there is quite a bit of grip. Last year this event was my first in the 06 spec car, I have very good memories from that and I was happy with the times that I set. From a team point of view, I think it is another good chance to earn some more manufacturer points as this surface suits both Federico and myself well. Another thing I remember from last year are the high numbers of spectators on the road sections of the rally.

"I don’t have a problem making pace notes for these stages and it will be a good advantage to use our notes from last year, there are quite a few stages the same as last year so this will help me during the recce. This has been a good year so far for the team and there’s no reason why Japan shouldn’t be another good rally. Federico has been doing an impressive job this year, he has got the experience of the stages, is setting decent times and picking up points along the way."

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
"As well as looking forward to the rally in Japan, I think it will also be very difficult. I have experience of the stages from a couple of years ago but will have to adjust my pacenotes slightly as back then it was in a Group N car. For this year in a top WRC car we will aim to be very neat on the stages and try to have a clean rally.

"One of the most difficult things are the stages themselves, the roads are very fast, but narrow, with bushes very close to the side of the road. Pacenotes need to be accurate and precise. I am feeling good going into this event. I have had some recent successful results in Argentina and hopefully we can score some more points for the Munchi’s team in Japan next weekend."

Event Information
Date: 26–28 October 2007
Round: 14 of 16 FIA World Rally Championship
Based: Obihiro, Japan
Stage surface: Gravel
Total distance: 1575.79km (350 competitive)
Number of stages: 27
Number of different stage venues: 11
Maximum number of times the same stage roads are used: five
Longest stage: 34.96km (stage 12 & 16)
Highest elevation on stage: 920 metres above sea level (on stage 24 & 26)
Central Service Park: Kita Aikoku Community Square
Shakedown Stage: 1.3km long, at alongside the service park
Ceremonial Start: 19:30 Thursday 25 Oct from Downtown, Obihiro
Official Start: 06:00 Friday 26 Oct at Kita Aikoku service park
Stages in darkness: four (stages 9 & 10, 19 & 20)
Leg one: 26 October. Cars starting SS1, Pawse Kamuy at 07:33, tackling 106.18km
Leg two: 27 October. Cars starting SS11 Rikubetsu 3 at 07:13, tackling 146.68km
Leg three: 28 October. Cars starting SS21 Repa Kamuy at 07:03, tackling 97.33km

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