Munchiís make down-under debut in Australia
Munchiís Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra is aiming to return to points-scoring form as he makes his debut at Rally Australia, round ten of the FIA World Rally Championship, next week. Villagra and co-driver Jorge Perez Companc have had an impressive season so far in their Ford Focus RS WRC, and are relishing the challenge of this new-look event.

With only two rallies of his eight-round campaign remaining, Villagra is hoping to emulate the performance that saw him take a career-best finish of fourth place at Acropolis Rally of Greece in June. Currently lying ninth in the championship, the seven-time Argentine champion is keen to secure a place in the top-ten of the driversí standings, and produce his best ever finish to a WRC season.

After a two-year absence from the WRC calendar, Rally Australia has found a new home in Kingscliff, on the Gold Coast, over 4000kms away from the previous venue in Western Australia. All of the drivers, including Villagra, who has never competed in Australia before, will be taking a step into the unknown.

The rally, based around the Tweed and Kyogle shires in the Northern Rivers region of the New South Wales state, boasts 344.72kms of competitive action divided over 35 stages - more than have been seen in any other rally this season.Last time out, the high-speed test of Rally Finland proved tough for the Argentine hero, who had missed out on valuable preparation in the previous round at Rally Poland, but he still managed to finish in 11th place in one of the most hotly contested rallies of the season.

While local knowledge played its part in Finland, there will be a level playing field for all of the contenders in Australia as none of the drivers have any previous experience of the rally in this area.

And while some of his competitors have been enjoying a break from rallying since the last round of the championship, Villagra has been competing in his native Argentina, where he is defending his national championship crown.

Rally Australia kicks off with two runs over the Tarmac Super Special Stage in Murwillumbah on Thursday night - the only time this season that two stages will run on the Thursday of a rally. A specially designed 2.55km course is expected to attract a huge number of spectators to the town to watch the cars set off in groups of three around the stage in a spectacular display of night time rallying.

Fridayís stages are based to the south and west of Rally HQ in Kingscliff with the crews returning to Murwillumbah at the end of the day for two more passes over the Super Special Stage.

On Day Two the 113.45kms of stages are based around the town of Wiangaree, just south of the Queensland border, while Saturday night will see two final runs over the Super Special Stage.

The drivers face a further 124.48kms of stages, split by a remote service, on Sunday before reaching the finish in Kingscliff. Day Three includes two passes over the longest stage of the rally, the 21.52km Castrol Edge West.

Munchiís Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
ďRally Finland was tough because we did not have much experience of racing there, but everyone will be in the same situation in Australia as it is a brand new rally. The car has been working well so it should be very exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. We have not seen the stages yet, but I hear that the stages are very good, with hard, fast gravel roads which I enjoy driving on. Our road position is very good for the first day and I think this will be a big help for us. We only have two rallies left in the WRC this year so I hope that we can score points in both of them and end our season on a high note.Ē

Event Information
Date: 3-6 September 2009
Round: 10 of 12 FIA World Rally Championship
Based: Kingscliff, Australia
Stage surface: Gravel
Total stage distance: 344.72km
Number of stages: 35
Longest stage: 21.52km (SS27/SS32) Castrol Edge West
Service Park: Kingscliff
Super Special Stage: 2.55kms (SS1/SS2/SS14/SS15/SS24/SS25) Tweed

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