Perez Companc farewells WRC in Finland
The ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship will mark the end of an era for Argentine driver Luis Perez Companc and co-driver Jose Maria Volta as they contest their final WRC event together on next week's Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Team-mates Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc will be present for the pair's final rally as the second nominated point scoring crew for the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team. Villagra currently occupies 10th in the Drivers' Championship while the Munchi's outfit lie fifth in the manufacturers' ahead of Suzuki's factory line-up.
Perez Companc has been a pioneer in exposing rally to the Argentine public through his Munchi's Ford WRT which was the first, and thus far only, WRC manufacturer team to hail from South America. Rally Finland will also mark his 30th WRC start.
Co-driver Volta is also set to retire from competition and play more of an organisational role within the Munchi's outfit but will still leave himself available as a reserve co-driver for the team should they require one. Volta is also a legend in Argentine rallying, contesting 40 WRC career events -- his first back in 1988 on Rally Argentina.
To keep sharp while the WRC has been on its six week summer break Perez Companc and Villagra both took park in a test at the beginning of the month in Finland in preparation for the event.
Villagra also contested the fifth round of the Argentine National Rally Championship finishing second on the Rally de Catamarca. This sees him regain the top position in the championship standings.
Fast, flowing and flight are three words which sum up nicely the characteristics of this extreme event which has been a feature on the WRC circuit since its inception in 1973. Roads are typically smooth gravel with jumps that have known to launch World Rally cars some 50 metres of airborne distance before they're released back onto the Scandinavian surface.
Conditions in Finland are set to be warm and very humid with average humidity levels currently floating above the 90% gauge. The event itself attracts the most physical spectator numbers with hundreds of thousands congregating to Jyvaskyla for the typically party-like event.
Rally Finland will cover a total of 340 competitive stage kilometres over 24 special stages. Over 100 entries have been confirmed for this unique event which is the only one this year to run as a round of the WRC, JWRC and PWRC. Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Luis Perez Companc said:
"I am very anxious about Finland because it is almost my first event of this season. I retired in the first leg of Rally Argentina and when I was in Jordan I had to return back home so I am looking forward to jumping into the rally car! Despite some changes to the stages I am going to Finland with much more confidence than last year. This is a rally that I like because it is fast and has all those jumps that make it very interesting. This year for me it is going to be of great help with the regulation that does not change the order on the road from one leg to another; that way I can follow the lines and breaking points of the cars in front of me. All I want is to have fun and enjoy the event and to retire from WRC competition in the most important event with the best drivers of the world.
"It was very positive to have chosen Federico this year and he has proved that we made the right choice. Since the team came into the WRC there has been a big progress in finishing events and scoring points for the driver and manufacturer championships. I think that the Munchi's will have a place in the history books as having been the first Argentine team to compete in the WRC. We have achieved more than what we thought we could and this was also because of all the support we received from Malcolm Wilson and Ford during these years. For sure, when the WRC arrives to Argentina, the people want to see the Munchi's in action with its drivers that represent the team and country. I will always be very thankful to Jose, he has been with me in the good and bad times. He also helped me in all my progress as a driver and I think that I could not have any other co-driver than him. He is an incredible person and we just have to look at each other and we know what the other is thinking. Jose has been very important in my development in the sport."
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team Driver Federico Villagra said:
"I know Finland is going to be a hard rally but we will try and continue to get more points for the Munchi's Ford team and for myself in the Drivers' Championship. I think racing for the second time will help a lot on the notes here and hopefully this will help us to a good performance. If I can be in the top-eight by the end of the event this will be a good result for me. Luis and Jorge gave me a chance to drive a World Rally car which was something I never thought possible to achieve. Luis helped me a lot when I first started driving the car and teaching me the correct style and approach compared to the GpN. We are leading the national championship in Argentina and we have missed two rounds so things are still going good for us there."
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team