Algarve adventure awaits Argentinean aces
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will travel to the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next week where they aim to secure their fifth consecutive points finish in the 44th edition of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

After a year in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule, the extremely popular Rally de Portugal returned to the WRC calendar last year. This year’s event features a minor revision to stages from 2009 but will be set in the same surroundings of Faro, the scenic capital of Algarve.

Federico Villagra and co-driver, Jorge Pérez Companc, will tackle 355.32km of competitive distance over 18 testing stages in their Ford Focus RS WRC - the Argentinean Rally Champions will be looking to improve on their steady performance from last year’s rally when they finished in seventh position overall. The duo will face a series of twisty hill sections, with fast blind corners and narrow sections but after a series of tough WRC rounds in 2010 so far, they will be well prepared for some technical stages.

With mild weather expected next week, the tests will be very dry and should provide all competitors with testing conditions. The loose gravel on the road surface will hold an early disadvantage for those drivers first on the stage who were forced to ‘sweep’ the gravel from the road.

This will be the first gravel event on European soil and the event will undoubtedly test the Munchi’s team with the fast, hard-packed surface. Forecast weather conditions are set for sunshine but with an average temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in the cock pit, this could prove difficult for the duo who will be forced to cope with extreme heat in their Ford Focus RS WRC.

The four-day event will officially begin with a drivers’ parade at the Algarve Stadium on the Thursday evening followed by a short 2.03km tarmac Super Special Stage where cars will compete side-by-side. The newly constructed stadium has a capacity of 30,300 and the expected crowds will provide a fantastic atmosphere for the busiest WRC round in the calendar so far; this year’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal has an impressive 75 entries from 33 countries.

There will be a few tweaks to this year’s stages as they feature some new starts or finishes, but the main difference from 2009 will be the day’s opening Santa Clara stage (SS2 and SS6), which is now run in reverse. The final day of Rally de Portugal is the shortest and will feature four all-gravel stages, with the only difference to last year’s route being on the Felizes 21.28km stage (SS14 and SS16) which has a new 3.11km finish. The rally will finish with another stage round the 2.03km tarmac stage round the Algarve Stadium.

The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will be aiming to replicate the consistency it has delivered thus far in the 2010 season and leave the sixth round of the WRC with a fifth consecutive points finish in order to enhance its position in the championship table.

Munchi’s Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
“Last time I was in Portugal it was a good rally for me but the rally is difficult with a lot of technical stages. We weren’t able to find the right speed and I had to drive slower than I wanted to but I am hoping that this year I will be able to find the right rhythm early on. I feel like I am steadily improving this year and have made no major mistakes so I just look forward to another steady performance in Portugal.”

Event Information
Date: May 27 - 29, 2010
Round: 6 of 13 FIA World Rally Championship
Based: Vilamoura, Portugal
Stage surface: 16 gravel stages and 2 tarmac super special stages
Total stage distance: 355.32km
Number of stages: 18
Longest stage: 26.20km, Almodovar (SS8 and SS11)
Service Park: Algarve Stadium, Faro

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