Villagra and Solberg team up for Munchi’s in Catalunya
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team head to Spain next week for the penultimate round of their 10-event 2008 FIA World Rally Championship campaign; RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España. The team are currently positioned two points ahead of Suzuki in the Manufacturers’ Championship and will be looking to extend that advantage when the event concludes next Sunday afternoon.

Federico Villagra/Jorge Pérez Companc will again lead the charge as they have done all year with the team. Joining them again after a successful outing in New Zealand will be Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud as the additional nominated point scoring crew.

Solberg comes in as the most experienced of the two Munchi’s drivers but, despite being the oldest fulltime WRC competitor, his experience on asphalt is quite limited. He does however come fresh off his first ever points finish on the sealed surface – seventh in Germany – which will put him in good stead ahead of the Spanish event.

The Norwegian has also been busy practising over the mini-break at home with his purpose-built, six speed sequential gearbox go-kart. Spending the last few weekends on the track is what the 35-year-old hopes will help him secure his second points finish on Tarmac.

This will be Villagra’s second ever asphalt event in a World Rally car after the Argentine debuted on the sealed surface at last year’s Rally de España, finishing 13th overall. To help in his preparation ‘Coyote’ will be taking part in a small test next Monday where he will experience for the first time the Pirelli PZero asphalt tyre.

The Argentine was also in action last weekend for the seventh round of his native rally championship and again he dominated proceedings to win Rally de Entre Ríos and extend his championship lead to 34 points with three rounds remaining.

This year’s event will again be based from the coastal town of Salou situated along the Costa Daurada located in the Catalonian region of Spain. The Port Aventura holiday resort and theme park will again play host to both Rally HQ and Service Park.

The ‘Golden Coast’ event is known for offering some of the highest average asphalt speeds in the championship calendar. After a five week break in the WRC season, competitors will need to stay on their toes for this one which can throw unexpected obstacles at any moment with loose gravel and unpredictable weather conditions playing a hand in previous years’ results.

In total 18 stages will cover 353.62 kilometres of competitive distance as competition kicks off with a ceremonial start in main street Salou at 20:00 on Thursday night. With 79 crews (27 of which are WRC machinery) entered, it is set to be another action packed event in the 2008 calendar.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“I am looking forward to the rally in Spain because I have been working a lot on learning about driving on Tarmac. OK, asphalt is still not a very strong part of my driving but after finishing seventh in Germany I would like to think we can score some more points in Spain. I have been spending a lot of time at home in Norway at the go-kart track with my own kart and this has been helping with my feeling on Tarmac. My plan will again be to take things at a steady pace to start with and drive our own rally and hopefully the speed will increase as the rally goes on. A top-eight finish here would be perfect for me and for the Munchi’s team who are in a good fight with Suzuki.”

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
“I have been rallying almost every week in Argentina but not so much on Tarmac except for a little bit we did in a group N car last week but other than that it has been pretty limited so the test next week will help a lot I’m sure. Being here for a second time will help but this is still only my second time ever on Tarmac in the WRC so we will try and find a nice pace from the start and gradually build on it. My goal for this rally will be to finish in the top-eight and collect some more drivers’ points. The test next Monday will hopefully give me a better understanding of how the 07 Focus reacts on asphalt and also an idea of how the Pirelli tyre will feel as this will be my first time using the Tarmac version of the rubber. The Munchi’s team is currently fighting with Suzuki for fifth place in the championship and I think we have a strong chance to extend our gap in Spain especially with Henning joining the team again.”

Event Information
Date: 3-5 October 2008
Round: 12 of 15 FIA World Rally Championship
Based: Salou, Spain
Stage surface: Asphalt
Total stage distance: 353.62 km
Number of stages: 18
Longest stage: El Priorat/La Ribera d’Ebre 1 at 38.27km (SS 7 & 10)
Central Service Park: PortAventura

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