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LEG 2 – RALLY DE LA SOJA – ALTO PARANÁ

Although Alejandro Galanti and Leonardo Suaya had planned an attack over their rivals and ended up winning the second leg of Rally de Alto Paraná in the Toyota Etios R5, it was Diego Domínguez and Edgardo Galindo the duo that finally dominated the fourth round of the Paraguayan Championship, a successful work thay had started building up last Saturday.

Domínguez then controlled that gap and chose a pace by which he would take care particularly from Gustavo Saba and Fernando Mussano (Volkswagen Polo GTI). However, in the morning he went through a scary momento when some tiny wires feeding the fuel pump got cut and caused a failure in the car which was remarkable in SS7 and less dangerous later, until it was fixed in the service park.

With his second victory in the national series this year (overall and RC2 Pro), Domínguez regained the series lead and the fight for it is now closer than ever.

Saba got a profitable second place and was fastest in some of this high average speed event stages where a little mistake could cost a terrible price, something evident after a couple of rolls and accidents. 

The winner’s total time was 1h28m47.17s and the runner-up finished 21.99s behind him. At the wheel of another german car, Miguel Zaldívar Jr. (co-driven by Argentinian Marcelo Der Ohannesian for the first time) was one of the rally stars. He is not entering every round this season because of his collage duties abroad and yet he proved he could bring a strong pace here and drive a car which is still new to him in great style against more experienced colleagues. After Leg 1, he said he would work hard to get to the podium and so he did despite a heavy pressure by Galanti.

With the Toyota in fourth, the best Ford, in the hands of Augusto Bestard and Héctor Nunes, arrived fifth. They had started this rally needing a sudden change of engine, but today They showed a better focus which led them to get a nice result. Also in a Fiesta R5, Juan Martín Masi and Fabrizio Chiriani were sixth and first in the RC2 class. Masi belongs to a new generations of competitors and he is doing well, but probably that win was meant to be Luis Maldonado Jr. and Jorge González’s again only until he cut a left side bend dramatically and rolled the Škoda Fabia for good.

As regular as in Rally de la República, José Luis Jacquet (co-driven here by Hernán Vargas Peña), managed to finish seventh in a Fabia, not entirely pleased with his degree of concentration. Fabrizio Zaldívar and Víctor Aguilera took their Ford Fiesta R2 to eighth position, first in RC4 Pro and top front Wheel drive entrants, this time with slimmer gaps than before from Stage to Stage compared to the Citroën DS3 of Álvaro Yaluk and Rubén García, eleventh, RC3 Pro victors and now on top of their division standings.  

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X of César Martínez (h)-Marco Méndez and Andrea Lafarja-Germán Maune completed the top ten in Santa Rita and clinchin first and second RC2N Pro places in front of Walter Solalinde.

César Pedotti-Marcelo Mendoza (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII) was the only crew to make it to parc fermé in RC2N. A wonderful present in his 31st birthday, Ricardo Fretes (with Alfredo Méndez in the right seat) won the RC3 class in his Honda Civic Type R. In RC4, Rodrigo Ocampos and Alejandro Álvarez got back to back wins in one of the many Hondas. By being on top of the RC4L class, Arnaldo Duarte and Héctor Gómez (Toyota Vitz) smiled again after some misfortunes in Carapeguá, beating Federico Ramírez by 36.18s. Ramírez, instead, won this leg.

In RC5, Rafael Saurini looked ready to grab the champagne bottle again, but halfway through the stages at noon he retired and left the win ready for another youngster in a Toyota, Giulio Massagrande, co-driven by Patricio Rivas, who was also first in the Etios Cup, followed by Fabrizio Galanti and Víctor Ramírez.

Other names missing the finish were Ricardo Escauriza (Ford Fiesta R5), Sebastián Lafarja (Honda Civic Type R RC3 Pro), Diego Cruz (Honda Civic Type R RC3), Miguel Bravo (Honda Civic Si RC3), Alexander Paniagua (Toyota Etios RC5), Iván Beissinger (Toyota Etios RC5) and Diego Domínguez Jr., who was not harmed (nor his co-driver) after getting out of the road at fast speed and crashing the Peugeot 208 R2 (RC4 Pro).

Next round will be Rally de la Cordillera near Eusebio Ayala (9th-11th August).

Photo: Alfredo Velásquez