Munchi’s manufacture double points down under
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team have had a successful drive down under as they finished with both crews inside the points on this weekend’s Repco Rally New Zealand; round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Federico Villagra/Jorge Pérez Companc put in a solid drive from start to finish picking up eighth place and two manufacturer points for the team. Team-mates Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud fought back from an incredible 48th position, after stage 1 power-steering issues, to finish an amazing ninth overall picking up the final manufacturer point for the team.

Solberg’s solid fight back was helped along by a massive bag of seven stage wins over days 1 and 2. Using his road position to good advantage the Norwegian blew everyone out of the water on stage 15 by over 8 seconds this morning despite a fierce battle between the top-four crews for the overall rally win.

In the first five kilometres of the opening stage of Rally New Zealand Solberg was struck down with power steering failure and lost over seven minutes over the first three stages as he battled the issue.

Fortunately his Munchi’s technical team were able to repair the fairly significant problem in just six minutes over the scheduled service time allotment to have him back out in the chase with a fully repaired Ford Focus RS WOR07.

Villagra has put in another solid gravel effort to post his fourth point scoring finish this year and his best ever WRC result in New Zealand. The Argentine took a measured approach over the three days capitalising on good road position to set some solid stage times.

The only real concern for Villagra came on Friday when he lost the feeling of his brakes during the afternoon loop of stages losing him a small amount of time.

Rally New Zealand was a different affair this year with weather conditions staying dry for the entirety making things tough at the top with loose gravel present on all three stages. Again this year the event was based in Hamilton with the majority of stages being run to the west.

In total crews experienced 353.03 kilometres of fast paced action over some of the most exciting roads in the championship. In total 18 stages were covered including three passes over the spectator friendly Mystery Creek super special.

The next event for the Munchi’s Ford WRT is Rally de España where Solberg will again accompany Villagra as the second nominated point scoring driver for the team.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“We have made some good steps this rally and I will take a lot away from it. After our problems on Friday I got this opportunity to drive at my own pace and it allowed me to try new things and set some great times along the way. We threw away last year’s notes and made new ones for this rally and I think this also helped a lot. It was great to set seven fastest stage times and also to finish ninth which meant we could score a point for the Munchi’s team and help them in the championship.”

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
“I am very happy to be here at the finish with both drivers’ and manufacturers’ points. It was our goal to finish in the top-eight on this event and that is exactly what we have achieved so I am very pleased with this. It has been a tough rally and we have had some small problems with the brakes but it is great to finish with no real problems all weekend. We are improving our pace on each event and learning more every rally and this event has been a good step forward. I am looking forward to the next rally in Spain as we will be testing before it and hopefully this will help me as my experience on Tarmac is limited.”

Final Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena +3h58m48.9s
2. D Sordo/M Marti +17.5s
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +41.5s
4. P Solberg/P Mills +2m48.9s
5. U Aava/K Sikk +3m30.7s
6. P-G Andersson/J Andersson +7m37.4s
7. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +7m54.9s
8. F Villagra/J Perez Companc +8m35.0s
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud +9m15.2s
10. M Prokop/J Tomanek +13m49.0s

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