Munchi’s set for Maori mission
"New Zealand can be a good rally for us to get more points"
The Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team is ready to battle in New Zealand at the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next week.
Confidence is high in the Argentinean team after securing its best finish of the 2010 season when taking sixth place overall last month in Turkey. Munchi’s will be further boosted by the return of regular co-driver Jorge Pérez Companc alongside Federico Villagra for the 40th edition of Rally New Zealand as the pair tackle 396.50km of competitive distance over 21 testing stages in their Ford Focus RS WRC.
Rally New Zealand has returned to the 2010 WRC calendar after a year’s absence and the long-established event will move 125kms north-west of its previous base Hamilton and back to the country’s largest city, Auckland. In previous years, the Munchi’s team have produced a series of fast stage times and finished in eighth position overall back in 2008.
Stages in Rally New Zealand have traditionally featured fast gravel roads with lots of camber and loose gravel on top, which held a somewhat unfair disadvantage for those cars first on the stage. However, the relocation for this year’s event will mean drivers start off on a level playing field as there will be four brand new stages. All crews will, therefore, face the same challenge of competing on stages they are not familiar with, in addition to the difficulty of driving on mixed gravel with tarmac sections.
The three-day event will officially begin at the ceremonial start at the Viaduct Harbour located on the waterfront of Auckland’s central business district. Rally HQ will be hosted from entertainment complex, Sky City, which also encompasses Auckland’s biggest landmark, the Sky Tower. With its numerous restaurants, bars and cafés, Sky City will appeal to rally fans of all ages and act as an ideal venue to host the high-profile pre-event activities planned throughout the week leading up to the rally.
Day one consists of a series of nine stages over 159.18km competitive distance, including a repeat loop at SS3 Bull 1 and SS7 Bull 2 of the rally’s longest stage at 32.56km. This early challenge will require the Argentinean duo’s full attention from the very beginning to ensure they can take advantage of the durable Pirelli Scorpion tyre on the mix of gravel and tarmac sections. The evening will also include a Super Special Stage of 1.5km set to take place in the city centre.
The second full day includes a loop of two lengthy stages over 20km before culminating with a short, sharp stage at the end of the morning and afternoon loop at just 4.68km. The final day comprises of only four stages comprising of 81.70km including the troublesome Whaanga coast stage making it vital for the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team crew to produce fast stage times in day one and day two in order to consolidate a strong position by the time it comes to the finale on Sunday.
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 fifth round of the WRC with a fourth consecutive points finish in order to enhance its position in the championship table.
Federico Villagra: “I think that New Zealand will be a good rally because the roads are really nice and they are interesting for the drivers. This season there will be stages that haven’t been in the rally for many years but I did some of them in 2005 when I raced in PWRC. I found a good setting and rhythm in the car out in Turkey and we feel that New Zealand can be a good rally for us to get more points for the team.”
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