Magnificent Munchi’s break all the records in Japan
FIA World Rally Championship

Rally Japan, 26-28 October 2007

Final Report

A remarkable performance by the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team has seen both drivers score their first ever drivers’ points with the team and capture a bag of manufacturer points at this weekend’s Rally Japan.

The efforts have given Luis Perez Companc/Jose Maria Volta their best ever result with fifth while Federico Villagra, with replacement co–driver Jose Luis Diaz, has hammered his best ever performance in the FIA World Rally Championship by finishing an incredible seventh overall. Another milestone for the Munchi’s on this event was their first ever stage win when Villagra not once, but on three occasions, won the Obihiro super special in front of the 15,000 plus spectators present each day.

This year’s Rally Japan has proved to be one of the most dramatic events in recent WRC history. Of the eleven P1 registered crews an amazing six retired from various legs throughout the rally with two retiring from the event completely. Weather conditions were the primary cause of this carnage with overnight cold conditions creating several obstacles including icy sections of stages which made conditions extremely unpredictable.

Overnight rain on Friday also made roads very slippery for Saturday’s stages as crews’ battled mud and massive ruts when competing on the stages for a second time. Rally Headquarters were based in the winter town of Obihiro as stages ran through various mountainous regions to the north and west of the small city. The rally has also seen the most amount of stages used in a WRC event for 2007 with 27 over 350 kilometres of competitive route.

Companc’s fifth place has seen him go one better than his previous best result of sixth in Argentina in 2004 and now puts him equal 16th in the 2007 drivers’ standings. On just his second visit to the land of the rising sun this is a fine effort by the Argentine who was yet to make an appearance on the points table before the Japanese event.

Day 3 was one of the most exciting for Companc who was locked in an immense battle with Stobart driver Matthew Wilson. The pair exchanged blows throughout the morning stages and with just one test to go it came down to a mere 2.1 seconds with just the 1.35 kilometre Obihiro super special in front of them. Unfortunately Wilson was too quick for the Argentine robbing Companc of fourth position by the narrowest of margins.

Recently winning the latest round of the Argentine National Rally Championship, Villagra headed to Japan full of confidence ahead of his second trip to the island. After a slowish start ĎCoyote’ began to improve over every leg and was rewarded with his fine result on just his sixth event with the Munchi’s Ford WRT and behind the wheel of a world rally car.

Unfortunately due to personal reasons Villagra’s regular co–driver, Jorge Perez Companc, was unable to attend the Japanese event but will return for the Munchi’s final round, of their ten event campaign, on the gravel stages of Wales Rally GB.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"What a weekend. This has been a fantastic personal result for me and also for the Munchi’s team. This is by far my best result and for Federico to back it up and pick up points is also amazing. We started well on Friday in the rough slippery conditions and were careful not to make any mistakes. I didn’t want to back off but still had to concentrate hard.

"I really enjoyed the stages on Saturday and I was able to push some more. I got a lot more energy when some of the leading drivers retired and we moved up into the top–five. The stages today I didn’t enjoy so much and I didn’t want to push so hard. I ended up in a very close battle with Matthew and there were some places I knew that I was able to drive hard but others I still had to be careful. I didn’t want to throw it all away on the last day. It’s been very good work by the team and a fantastic weekend."

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
"For me, this has been a great rally. I didn’t have much experience and knew that it was very important to finish and not make a mistake; this was my plan from the start. I was very happy with my stage times during the rally and we have improved a lot from the rallies before."I have got closer to Luis and Matthew with my times and the only time they were far ahead was today when they were battling. It is a fantastic feeling to score points in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship. I never thought we could come here and do that. Luis has been exceptional and I have been happy to back him up. The icing on the cake was to score three fastest stage times. What a wonderful feeling."

Final Leaderboard
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen 3h23m57.6sec
2. D Sordo/M Marti +37.4sec
3. H Solberg/C Menkerud +4m33.7sec
4. M Wilson/M Orr +6m37.9sec
5. L P Companc/J M Volta +6m40.4sec
6. M Stohl/I Minor +7m04.3sec
7. F Villagra/J Diaz +11m15.3sec
8. K Taguchi/M Stacey +20m40.1sec
9. G Pozzo/D Stillo +21m53.0sec
10. A Araujo/M Ramalho +24m13.5sec

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