Sweden : Munchi's Ford World Rally Team - Preview
The Munchi's Ford World Rally Team begins its WRC campaign next week at the Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Argentinean drivers Luis Perez Companc and Juan Pablo Raies will head the M-Sport run team, competing in ten rounds of the
Both drivers are extremely excited about the opportunity they have this year and will be looking to gain valuable experience as well as positive results throughout. The team will be driving last year's winning car in the Manufacturers' Championship - Ford Focus RS WRC 06 - and with three Argentinean Championships between them, the pair will add extra firepower to the Ford company artillery.
Competing in eight rallies last season, Perez Companc has experienced the championship's many different surfaces and will be hunting for Manufacturer points, especially on his home rally in Argentina. Team-mate Raies has yet to experience much out of South America, apart from Safari Rally of Kenya in 2002 and Rally of Cyprus last year, so he will be looking to gain vital experience and finish all events during the year.
Perez Companc will be guided by one of the most highly-rated professional co-drivers in Argentina, Jose Maria Volta. Raies will have Jorge Perez Companc alongside him, brother of Luis and a former Argentinean and South American champion co-driver.
Both crews have been spending a lot of time preparing for the year and will look to begin their campaign on a high. The drivers are very impressed with the car and extremely happy with its performance at a mid-December test in Cumbria.
Uddeholm Swedish Rally is renowned for its high speed roads and massive snow banks, and will be a test for the two South Americans who between them have only contested the rally once. Perez Companc finished the event last year in a hard fought 17th position, while Raies has never driven on snow and the event will be a huge learning curve for him.
Set in the Värmland area, Uddeholm Swedish Rally takes place in the snow and ice covered regions of Hagfors and Karlstad, in a bitterly dry cold climate with temperatures between zero and minus-20 degrees Celsius. The rally covers 341km of competitive distance in 20 special stages and with 34.8 percent of fresh competitive route it will offer new challenges to all 63 drivers competing in the snow next week; 22 of which are WRC entrants.
This year the city of Karlstad has introduced a brand new purpose built super special stage which includes a 30 metre jump and with top speeds of 160km/h the synchronized 1886 metre parallel track will offer fans a breathtaking view of what rallying is all about.
Luis Perez Companc
“The Focus WRC 06 is a fantastic car to drive and the few events I drove it last year, it left me with such a good feeling that I am really looking forward to driving it again this season. The expectations are big this year because we have entered a team in the championship and the idea will be to try and score as many points as possible. For Sweden, I am much more confident than last year, it was important to build up the experience and hopefully this year we should be faster. I'm really looking forward to Argentina, especially this year because the start will be in Buenos Aires.
“I have a very good relationship with my brother and we have spoken a lot about all that can happen this season. Let's hope that with my advice it can make things easier for him and Juan Pablo.”
Juan Pablo Raies
“This year is going to be a big challenge and I have prepared myself for it, so I hope to do as good a job as possible. It is going to be a long season with nine new rallies for me, so my aim is to try and finish all of them. I want to gain lots of experience on each of the events, so if I have the chance to return in the future I will have better knowledge and notes.
“I had the opportunity to test the car in mid-December in Cumbria and it was fantastic the way it performed, I'm really looking forward to driving it. To finish the rally in Sweden would be great for me, I have been getting some coaching and hope to apply it to the rally next week, my first on snow!”