Points result slips away from Munchi’s in Greece
The seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship has led the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team so close to a points finish in the Acropolis Rally of Greece. Federico Villagra/José María Volta put in a valiant effort to finish just one position off a Manufacturers’ Championship point despite retiring from day 2 action.

Joining the Munchi’s Ford WRT for this event was local ace Aris Vovos and his co-driver Loris Meletopoulos. After a solid start to the rally a steering problem on day 2 saw their retirement from the event and the 12th position they held at the time.

Villagra began well on the opening day and by the morning loop of stages on Saturday was constantly setting top-10 fastest stage times to occupy a very impressive sixth overall after 10 special stages. Villagra also changed co-drivers for the event, enlisting the help of Luis Pérez Companc’s regular co-driver after his own co-driver, Jorge Pérez Companc, was forced to stay home in Argentina for personal reasons.

Things were looking good for the Argentine until disaster struck just 10 kilometres into stage 11 when the rough conditions caused suspension damage to the rear left corner of his Ford Focus WRC07. Fortunately his technicians did a fantastic job to repair the car and have him back out fighting today.

Local rally legend Vovos began steadily before improving quickly on his pace setting a multitude of top-10 times on the opening day. Crossing the finish line to the biggest cheer of the night on Friday, the Greek businessman was 13th outright and closing fast on the top-10 leaderboard.

Unfortunately day 2 did not go to plan when he was forced to retire with broken steering on the 16.6 kilometre Pissia 1 test. As a result Vovos retired from the event which he has competed on more than any other current competitor in the WRC.

Thursday night saw the ceremonial start return to the foothills of the Acropolis after a five year absence from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of devoted rally fans packed the centre of Athens to see their favourite rally stars at an autograph session before crews crossed over the start-ramp.

This year Rally HQ moved north of Athens to the Tatoi military airbase which also hosted the 4.6 kilometre Tatoi super special. Typical of the Acropolis event spectator numbers were of healthy proportion as crews powered through 20 special stages over three days of hot competition.

The next rally in the Munchi’s Ford WRT’s 10 event WRC campaign takes the Argentine outfit to the Rally of Turkey in just 10 days time. Villagra will again contest the event as the team’s number one driver and he will be joined by Scotsman Barry Clark who will contest just his second WRC event in a World Rally Car.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
“The rally was very difficult but generally I enjoyed it and I liked the stages. I’m happy with my times and we have improved well during this event; this really helps with the next rally so close. The stages were very rough especially on the second pass and because of this we had our problem with the broken suspension. But that issue aside, I am happy with the driving and we had a reasonably problem free rally. It was hard work to avoid the rocks and it’s very easy to push too hard and make a mistake. 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.”

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Aris Vovos said:
“We started off the rally quite steadily but had a small problem with too must dust getting into the car. It was difficult to drive like this and difficult to concentrate also. But our times were getting better throughout Friday and we had got close to the top-10. We were going well on Saturday though 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 had problems also.”

Final Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena 3h54m54.7s
2. P Solberg/P Mills +1m09.5s
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +1m56.1s
4. U Aava/K Sikk +4m19.7s
5. D Sordo/M Marti +4m49.4s
6. M Wilson/S Martin +6m11.3s
7. J-M Latvala/M Attila +6m47.5s
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud +9m14.0s

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