What to know
Rally de la Soja – Alto Paraná started last night in Santa Rita. This is the fourth round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship and its named after the place, which is the most important farming area in the country. The itinerary goes through colourful soy, canola and wheat plantations. Alto Paraná is held less than a month after Rally de la República, an unusual event fue to its length and duration.
The entry list in this growing eastern region is quite the same than before. One of the main few differences is seen in the top class (RC2 Pro), where Miguel Zaldívar Jr. comes back to the national scene in the second MZR team Volkswagen Polo R5, co-driven by Marcelo Der Ohanessian.
In RC2, Ricardo Escauriza is joined by Félix Angulo in a Ford Fiesta, leaving behind his days at the Wheel of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (RC2N Pro) to make his debut with this kind of cars, a vehicle he recently bought from Luis Maldonado Jr.
In 2018, this rally was based at Yguazú, but now it was moved some kilometers to the west to settle around a variety of roads which look very entertaining for the competitors, with lots of ups and downs followed by sweeping corners.
The special stages participants have to face are: Parque Naranjal Yñaro-Condominio Industrial Naranjal (the shortest by a slim margin, 11.72 km), Naranjal Villa San Pedro-Panambí, Santa Lourdes-Arroyo Yatai (these three tests are part of Leg 1 which finishes today at 14:10) and Barrio San José-Cerro Largo (it kick off Leg 2 tomorrow at 8:00), Estancia Forlín Largada-Llegada (the longest, 19.58 km), Tavapy-Campinas Verdes (this one is also Power Stage at 14:00 before parc fermé half an hour later).
The six-stage schedule to be repeated twice makes a total 12 stages, each day with a service halt by mid-morning. Last Tuesday, the scrutineering took part in the Touring y Automóvil Club Paraguayo workshops (Asunción), although yesterday a few entrants completed this request in Santa Rita.
These are the championship leaders so far: Alejandro Galanti (Toyota Etios R5, RC2 Pro), Luis Maldonado Jr. (Škoda Fabia R5, RC2), César Martínez Jr. (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, RC2N Pro), César Pedotti (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, RC2N), Sebastián Lafarja (Honda Civic Type R, RC3 Pro), Diego Elizeche (Honda Civic Si, a non-starter here), Fabrizio Zaldívar (Ford Fiesta, RC4 Pro), Rodrigo Ocampos (Honda Civic Type R, RC4), Arnaldo Duarte (Toyota Vitz, RC4L) and Nicolás Baeza (Volkswagen Gol, RC5).
There are 43 entries, a number slightly higher than what the series saw in the previous rally. 27 of them are front-wheel drve cars and 16 are four-wheel drive.
The start last night was done in the Santa Rita Town a couple of hours after the Shakedown, held only after the rain -not as heavy as in other events earlier in the season- stopped. The test was not compulsory.
Place and weather
This rally is located about 70 kilometers away from Ciudad del Este, the state capital and the country’s second largest city with almost 300,000 inhabitants coming from many different cultures, the reason why they can be heard speaking languages such as Spanish, Guaraní, Portuguese, Arab, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and German.
However, it is in Santa Rita where the event is based. The ton was founded by Brazilian immigrants and is the top reference when it comes to farm business. Although Santa Rita appears in the map only since 1973, its impulse and growth have been fast compared to other places.
Its annual “Expo Santa Rita” fair is the most important at national level with over 100,000 visitors.
Alto Paraná is a state plenty of soy, corn, canola, wheat, mint, yerba mate, sugar cane, citrics, cassava, sweet potato, rice, strawberries, peas and cow and pork cattle. There is also a Wood industry moving around eucaliptus, cedar, lapacho and incensé, as well as some car part manufacturers. The huge Itaipú dam is located near Ciudad del Este, making this state the world’s largest hydroelectric energy supplier.
The state is one of the 17 in Paraguay and its limits are Candindeyú in the north, the Paraná river, Brazil and Argentina in the east, Itapúa in the south and Caazapá and Caaguazú in the west.
Because of the jungle, there was hardly any town found before the Spaniard expeditions until Alejo García got there in 1525. In 1542, explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca discovered the wonderful Iguazú Falls.
A large forest area have been ravaged in the past. Some of the rivers in Alto Paraná show large rocks which create intersting water falls sich as Monday and Ñacunday (including a national park).
The weather forecats tells about showers stopping ver early during the weekend and conditions improving by Saturday afternoon, with minimum temperatures of about 9°C and maximum temperatures approaching 25° by Sunday.
Special stages: 12 total (6 different stages).
Leg 1 distance: 215,14 km (88,34 special stages and 126,80 road sections).
Leg 2 distance: 208,20 km (94,22 special stages and 113,98 road sections).
Total distance: 423,34 km (182,56 special stages and 240,78 road sections).
Point standings (after TransItapúa, Guairá and República)
RC2 Pro: 1-Alejandro Galanti 81, 2-Diego Domínguez 73.5, 3-Miguel Zaldívar 48.5, 4-Gustavo Saba 45.5, 5-Augusto Bestard 17, 6-Miguel Ángel García 12.5.
RC2: 1-Luis Maldonado Jr. 91.5, 2-Juan Martín Masi 43.5, 3-Jorge García 37, 4-José Luis Jacquet 36, 5-Luis Ortega 21.5, 6-Agustín Alonso 8.
RC2N Pro: 1-César Martínez Jr. 113.5, 2-Andrea Lafarja 49, 3-César Martínez 36, 4-Ricardo Escauriza 24, 5-Blas Zapag 19.5, 6-Iván Balbuena 17.5.
RC2N: 1-César Pedotti 49, 2-Oscar Napout 27.5, 3-César Martínez 7, 4-Francisco Delgado 3.5.
RC3 Pro: 1-Sebastián Lafarja 69.5, 2-Álvaro Yaluk 53, 3-Riyosuke Shima 37.5, 4-César Cruz 11, 5-Fabrizio Zaldívar 7.
RC3: 1-Diego Elizeche 109.5, 2-Ricardo Fretes 44.5, 3-Diego Cruz 35.5, 4-Jorge Ocampos 31, 5-Miguel Bravo 26.
RC4 Pro: 1-Fabrizio Zaldívar 51.5, 2-Diego Domínguez (h) 34.5, 3-Rubén González 23, 4-Fabrizio Yaluk 22.
RC4: 1-Rodrigo Ocampos 62.5, 2-Rodolfo Winekker 51.5, 3-Carlos Espinoza 29, 4-Amílkar Servín 28.5, 5-Claudio Stein 17.
RC4L: 1-Arnaldo Duarte 76.5, 2-Federico Ramírez 57, 3-Sebastián Martínez 39, 4-Marvin Stein 25.5, 5-Juan Escobar 8.
RC5: 1-Nicolás Baeza 90.5, 2-Rafael Saurini 62, 3-Fabrizio Galanti 44.5, 4-Giulio Massagrande 36.5, 5-Claudio Bergottini 4, 6-Fernando Abente 3.5.