Acropolis: Munchi's Ford WRT - Preview
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team will aim to collect their first manufacturer points of the season next weekend as both crews of Luis Perez Companc/Jose Volta and Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc tackle the BP Ultimate Acropolis
Rally for the first time.
Round eight of the World Rally Championship will be the fifth in the Munchi's ten-event campaign.
Coming off two consecutive rough gravel events this month the pair will be in high hopes of snatching that first manufacturer point which has evaded the team by the smallest of margins so far this year.
In his last two events Villagra has shown excellent consistency finishing ninth and eleventh respectively. Coming home just one spot off the final manufacturer placing in Sardinia last week, the Argentine will be hungry to go one better in Acropolis this week.
Run as a WRC event every year since 1973, excluding 1974 when it was cancelled due to the world oil crisis, the Acropolis Rally is packed full of tradition. The closest European event to the equator is known for its swelteringly hot and humid conditions that can be lethal for competitors inside the cabin of a world rally car.
Fitness becomes a big factor in this event as crews take on some lengthy stages including the 48.88 kilometre Agii Theodori test, longest in the 2007 championship so far.
334 kilometres of stage distance will be covered over some of the toughest WRC roads, putting high stress on the under-body and suspension of the cars, which are reinforced even greater for this event.
The surface is rocky gravel with potential race-ending boulders that line the edge of the road. Roads are fast but very technical and narrow in places, meaning crews consequently need to produce very precise pace-notes in order to minimise the risk of any incidents.
Companc was showing top-ten pace in Sardinia until a large rock ended his challenge. Each gravel event has brought more confidence to the 35-year-old this year and while it is a new rally for him, his performance on the surface suggests a problem-free run here could certainly open the scoring for the Munchi's Ford WRT.
Villagra finished his first event in a world rally car, Sardinia, in eleventh place; an excellent achievement the Argentine was extremely happy with. While he still has a lot of experience to gain at the top level, early signs suggest he won't be far from the pace as the year progresses.
Both Companc and Villagra tested the Munchi's Ford Focus RS WRC06 prior to Sardinia and were delighted with the results. The team is now finding a good balance in the car on gravel and will be looking to utilise the previous test experience they gathered on the Acropolis roads .
Luis Perez Companc
"The last few events have not been very kind to me and we have had small problems that have ended our rallies early. My first time in Greece will be very difficult but I will be concentrating hard and aiming to have a clean run; there is a high rate of attrition and hopefully we can be there at the end to pick up some points. The recce will be important and we will gather as much information as possible about where we can push and where we need to be careful of the surface and not make any mistakes. The car is strong and, even though we didn't complete many stages in Argentina and Sardinia, it still felt positive on the gravel surface; I think we should have a good getting for Greece. Federico performed well and did a good job for the team. I think he will improve as the season goes on and he gets to grips with the car. I'm hoping this rally will be a good team effort from us all."
"Sardinia was a very important event for me, my first rally in a WRC car. It wasn't easy but my confidence improved massively throughout the weekend and now I have a better understanding of what the car, and I, can do. The plan for me in Greece is to try and finish the event again to get more experience. I know that I can go faster but I need to learn the car first. I don't have any pressure and so if I'm feeling confident in Greece then I will push harder but if I don't have a good feeling then definitely I will back off and make sure I get the stages completed. The car is very good but it's just taking me a while to learn how to drive it properly; I still have the Group N driving style in my head. The Acropolis Rally is a tough event on drivers and cars so if we don't make any mistakes and have a clean run, our first manufacturer point may be possible."
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team