Fast head, old shoulders
THE older rally fans are sure to get behind Federico Villagra when he’s driving around the Coffs Coast in September’s Rally Australia.
By that stage Villagra will be 42- years-old and as the oldest of the top-flight drivers at the event, Villagra will definitely be flying the flag of the veteran driver.
The winner of the past nine Argentinian titles, Villagra is a South American rallying hero.
Villagra will contest nine rounds of the World Rally Championship with the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team in 2011.
Nicknamed ‘The Coyote’, the popular underdog has had a passion for speed since he was 10-years- old when he started competing in motocross.
A winner of several motocross and endurance titles between 1984 and 1996, Villagra switched to rallying in 1997 with his brother Javier co-driving. He made his world championship debut that year, finishing third in the Formula 2 class on Rally Argentina.
Villagra spent the next decade competing in his native South America and was a regular on his home round of the WRC. He also strayed further afield to countries such as Australia and Japan and occasionally to Europe when finances allowed.
But when Villagra won the Group N section of Rally Argentina in ninth overall in 2007, little did he know what impact that performance would have on his career.
By finishing the event as the leading home driver in a showroom-specification Mitsubishi Lancer – and comprehensively outshining then Munchi’s Ford Focus number two Juan Pablo Raies – Villagra presented joint team owners Jorge and Luis Perez Companc with a dilemma. Raies had been underperforming and, in Villagra, Munchi’s had been presented with the perfect solution to bolster its driver line-up.
A handful of weeks later, Villagra was thrust into the limelight when he made his debut for the team on Italy’s WRC counter in Sardinia, bringing his Focus home in 11th position with Jorge Perez Companc co-driving in place of Villagra’s normal partner Diego Curletto, who had to be stood down as part of the deal.
Name: Federico Villagra
Date of Birth: May 21, 1969
Car: Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Team: Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team
Co-driver: Jorge Perez Companc
WRC Debut: Argentina 1997