Munchi's Gobble Points in Turkey
The fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship saw Federico Villagra pick up a third consecutive points finish and finish Rally Turkey in sixth position overall -- the best position for the Argentinean Rally champion in the season so far.
s of WRC fans flocked to the official ceremonial start on Thursday 15 April in the historical Sultanahment Square right in the heart of the city, between the famous Blue Mosque and Haghai Sophia. This event was attended by a number of influential Turkish ministers and drivers signed autographs for enthusiastic fans before returning by ferry to Rally HQ in Pendik.
Jorge Perez Companc could not attend the sixth edition of Rally Turkey so Federico Villagra teamed up with experienced co-driver and fellow Argentinean, Jose Diaz, to tackle the 321km of competitive distance over 21 tests. An exciting battle between the Argentinean duo and former Formula One Rally Champion, Kimi Raikkonen
evolved over the first two days.
Rally organisers chose to take advantage of a recent FIA regulation permitting mixed surface events, so the predominantly gravel route contained almost 50km of asphalt. Villagra and Diaz adapted well to the changing road conditions, reporting no major problems in the opening nine stages of 98.43km and finishing the day in seventh position, 7.7 seconds in front of Raikkonen.
The second full day started in sunny conditions approximately 60km north of Rally HQ where 37 of the 40 original entrants tackled two 72.91km loops of competitive stage distance. This was the toughest of the three-day event as it included the longest stage of the rally and six of the eight tests contained both gravel and asphalt surfaces.
Villagra lost crucial time in stage 10 when his Ford Focus RS WRC got caught up in dust from BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala, costing the Argentinean valuable time and finishing the stage 9.2 seconds slower than Raikkonen. This caused Raikkonen to move up in the results table where he led Villagra by 1.5 seconds. For the remainder of the day's stages, the Finn took advantage of the tarmac roads where he performs best and widened the gap between the two drivers to 32.6 seconds by the end of Day 2.
The opening two stages on the third and final day of Rally Turkey were cancelled due to rain overnight which made the stages extremely muddy. This was not good news for Villagra who lost out on 38.08km of competitive distance where he planned to produce good times in an attempt to close the gap between him and Raikkonen.
In the afternoon stages, Villagra took advantage of Dani Sordo's misfortune in Stage 21 and moved up the results table into sixth position -- his best result in the World Rally Championship this season. After maintaining a series of clear runs, Villagra managed to hold on to this position and after an extremely tough rally the Munchi's Ford World Rally Team was rewarded with a healthy ten manufacturer points.
Munchi's Ford WRT driver Federico Villagra said:
"This was a new event and I was not expecting the roads to be so fast. Every night we were working late looking over the recce notes for the new stages so we could try and catch up on Kimi [Raikkonen]. I feel that I have been steadily improving this season and I am pleased to have got my best result of the season so far. I look forward to New Zealand next month where I will hopefully produce another good result for the team."