Half of Rally de la Cordillera is over now after a glorious day in the stages and a closely fought event both overall and in each of the clases.
Diego Domínguez and Edgardo Galindo took their ART DTA team Hyundai i20 R5 to first position by winning four out of today’s six special stages in the opening leg of the rally based at Eusebio Ayala. The remaining two scratches were for Gustavo Saba and Fernando Mussano (Škoda Fabia) who finshed just 5s17/100 behind after 154 kilometers of action.
In a scenery similar to Rally de la República two weeks ago, third place went to Alejandro Galanti and Leonardo Suaya, their gap with the leader 48s20/100 in the Toyota Etios. Miguel Zaldívar lies fourth ahead of Luis Ortega (both with Fabia R5) and th best Ford Fiesta, driven by Miguel Ortega (h). Pedro Fadul (Škoda Fabia), Blas Zapag (h) (Škoda Fabia), Augusto Bestard (Ford Fiesta) -who had a steering problem- and Javier Ugarriza (making experience in a Škoda co-driven by Héctor Nunes), complete the top 10.
Carlos Cortázar and Juan Bilbao (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) won the day in the RC2N división having been fastest in one Stage. Agustín Alonso had been the man to beat in three of them and César Martínez (h) in two. However, Cortázar (tenth overall) enjoyed a trouble-free leg unlike most of his rivals, so he leads the pack by only 0s19/100 over Gonzalo Ortega with Alonso recovering to third. Mauricio Ortiz is fourth, Martínez (h) fifth, Carlos González sixth, Blas Zapag seventh and his son Enrique eighth (his car had a big shunt in the trunk after a run off).
In RC2NL, César Martínez and Alcides Ortega are leaders in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, 16s63/100 over Elías Benítez (Lancer Evo IX), delayed as a consequence of injection problems when he was clearly dominating the standings. Francisco Delgado (Lancer Evo VI) lies third.
Fabrizio Zaldívar also had a first part of the day to remember in RC3 only to end up rolling the Citroën DS3 Max (older brother Miguel retired hi Fabia R5 due to the very same reason). This handed Juan Martín Masi the top spot and a third DS3 the runner-up position, in thi case driven by Álvaro Yaluk.
Diego Domínguez (Peugeot 208) was left a lonely entry in the RC4 class when many of the other competitors retired. He left the road once and visibly dented the rear bumper and exhaust pipe of the R2 car, but that was not enough to stop his fast times in the stages. That happened in a quick left corner over tarmac, a surface briefly used to make a mixed SS1. With a Honda Civic Si, Wilfred Klassen had won the opening stage before a sudden stop.
Gustavo Benítez (Volkswagen Gol) is first in RC4L, 3m47s in front of the small Toyota Vitz driven by debutant Arturo Ortiz.
There several retirements in RC5, where Nicolás Baeza has a clear gap of six minutes over Mauricio Salinas (both of them in Volkswagen Gol).
Tomorrow, Leg 2 begins with SS7 at 9:00. SS12 will be the last and also the Power Stage at 12:25 when the crews had done 115,18 kilometers.
Leg 1 stage winnners
Overall: Diego Domínguez 4, Gustavo Saba 2.
RC2: Diego Domínguez 4, Gustavo Saba 2.
RC2N: Agustín Alonso 3, César Martínez (h) 2, Carlos Cortázar 1.
RC2NL: Elías Benítez 5, Francisco Delgado 1.
RC3: Fabrizio Zaldívar 4, Juan Martín Masi 1.
RC4: Diego Domínguez (h) 5, Wilfred Klassen 1.
RC4L: Gustavo Benítez 5, Diego García 1.
RC5: Nicolás Baeza 4, Alexander Paniagua 1.
Photo: ML Photosport.