In their third event at the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 and second national appearance, Gustavo Saba and Fernando Mussano took a creditable victory yesterday in the 19th edition of Rally del Guairá, a round valid for the Paraguayan Championship. Two of their most usual rivals, Diego Domínguez (Hyundai i20) and Alejandro Galanti (Toyota Etios) completed the podium in a difficult venue that Centro Paraguayo de Volantes was able to handle despite the mud formed by consistent rains until Saturday night.
So that the rally would give maximum points, the minimum distance according to the rules was covered after two tests were repeated twice: Coronel Martínez (15,37 km) and -like in Leg 1- Félix Pérez Cardozo-Carovení (9,68 km).
Saba’s win came not only because he is getting to grips with his new ride, but also because more users of this car like him hace recovered trust in the model after Volkswagen Motorsport changed the supplier of the weak welded part which caused trouble in its rear suspension, replacing these some days ago. Almost 24 years went by since the last time this manufacturer was on top of the list in the national series here when Denes Tomboly and Rodrigo García cruised to first position in Traschaco Rally (5th October 1995).
The surface kept part of the mud seen the day before, so competitors had a tough time finding out which places were dry or wet, although there were big flooded patches and low grip.
It was Domínguez who won the leg by being quickest in three out of these four stages. The other one was led by the overall winner. While Galanti was never so far away, Luis Maldonado Jr. showed a special motivation here and set second and third fastest times.
That pace, though, was not enough for the Škoda driver to overtake Miguel Zaldívar in his bid to take the fourth spot, but it granted him RC2 class honours. It seems Zaldívar that is also progressively feeling more comfortable with the Polo, according to his sold rhythm during both days.
Driving one more Czech car, Luis Ortega arrived to parc fermé in sixth, followed by Víctor Galeano, a starring name which is back in the championship with a Ford Fiesta. Juan Martín Masi (also Ford) finished eighth, leaving behind the Fabia of Jorge García and the mighty Can-Am X3 in youngster Bruno Llano’s hands (co-driven by Walter Martínez), top guy from the UTV group who caught the attention of many by making it to Villarrica in tenth overall ahead of other R5 and fur-wheel drive vehicles.
Another UT-A participant, Mateo Arrellaga, was eleventh, a few seconds before top RC2N Pro driver, César Martínez Jr. in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, now a convincing leader in the point standings. Martínez was joined in the podium by two consistent drivers: Blas Zapag and Andrea Lafarja (the Cross-Country expert lady in his rally debut).
Oscar Napout (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII) was the only RC2N survivor. The brand new Ford Fiesta R2 recently brought to Paraguay by Fabrizio Zaldívar culd nota k more of its first outing. They were 18th and top front-wheel entrants, plus RC4 Pro winners. Sebastián Lafarja (Honda Civic Type R) made the best out of his RC3 Pro start, while Diego Elizeche recovered from a Leg 1 time penalty for jumping a stage start in his Civic Si to become RC3 victor.
The other classes were won by Amílkar Servín (Hoda Civic Si, RC4), Marvin Stein (Honda Civic Type R RC4L), local ace Nicolás Baeza (Volkswagen Gol, RC5), Miguel Franco (Yamaha YXZ, UA-A) and Thiago Llano (Can-Am X3 UT-S).
CPV remarked the good work done by the Centro Guaireño de Motores staff and thanked Guairá governor. Dr. Juan Carlos Vera, for helping improve the roads with heavy duty machinery at all times.
-Photos: Gustavo Saba/Fernando Mussano/Miguel Carrizosa (Volkswagen Polo GTI, overall winners and Diesa team director), Oscar Napout/Omar Venzano (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, RC2N winner), podio RC3 podium and CPv President Carlos Villate thanking local governor Vera for his support to the event. Crédito: JES/Prensa CPV.