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After Friday’s twp runs through the night Sambódromo superspecial, Rally TransItapúa resumed yesterday with a mild morning in which the southern wind helped the stages to get a little drier. After that, a sunnier afternoon saw the participants compete in more normal conditions than expected.

Nevertheless, the first half of the event proved to be extremely tough. Nearly 40% of the entrants retires before the leg was finished, including some top names and cars from the top clases.

Alejandro Galanti and Marcelo Toyotoshi had been fastest on tarmac the night before. When they hit the gravel, they kept their good pace in the Toyota Etios R5. Galanti confirmed the reasons why he is the rally’s most winning driver, coming here with seven outright wins in the past.

Among the most important retirements, the Volkswagen Polo GTI of Gustavo Saba and Fernando Mussano was one of the earliest. Saba was not any luckier than in Argentina last month when he landed from a jump only to feel the German car had completely cracked its rear suspension. That was in SS3, the first of the day. He would restart the event on Sunday.

Almost at the same time, Diego Domínguez was delayed by two punctures in his Hyundai i20. Luis Maldonado Jr.’s Škoda Fabia had its electronic throttle jammed, so it lied in the service park for good. Equally unlucky were the similar cars of the Ortega team with both Miguel Jr. and Luis getting out of the action in the sixth stage. However, Agustín Alonso’s accident was more violent. His Fabia R5 hit the ground with its front bumper after a jump and it started to roll. Nor he or his co-driver, Diego Fabiani, were harmed, but the Czech vehicle looked really damaged.

Alejandro Galanti got on top of the overall partial results -as well as the RC2 Pro class- after 1h04m34.5s, leaving Domínguez 26.5s behind. Augusto Bestard and Héctor Nunes did a great job in their Ford Fiesta by taking third place, 1m52.1s behind the leading Toyota, even when they lost speed in several corners due to a far too soft suspension set-up.

Because TransItapúa is also valid for the South American Championship, positions fourth and fifth were taken by Boliveans Mariano Aguilera and Roberto Saba (Škoda), while at national level it would be Miguel Zaldívar Jr. in the best of the brand new Polos and a very regular Juan Martín Masi, getting to grips with his Fiesta R5 ahead of Jorge García’s Fabia who would take those points.

Further down the field, the event showed Pedro Fadul (co-driven here by Eugenio Arrieta) in one more Škoda and César Martínez Jr. driving the best production car, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (RC2N Pro). Not so far behind, Diego Domínguez Jr. and Adolfo González took their Peugeot 208 R2 (RC4 Pro) to the top spot among front wheel drive competitors.

Álvaro Yaluk and Fernando Zuleta were doing well in the Citroën (RC3 Pro) until the car hit a rock in SS7 while pushing in fifth gear. With the car out of control, the DS3 started to roll, so it was game over for that crew. Younger brother Fabrizio was luckier and, co-driven by Bolivia’s Fabrizio Roca, settled in second RC4 Pro position at the wheel of a reliable Ford Fiesta R2.

Out of the 38 cars reaching parc fermé, in the rest of the classes the leaders were César Martínez (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, RC2N), Diego Elizeche (Honda Civic Si, RC3), Arnaldo Duarte (Toyota Vitz, RC4L) and Nicolás Baeza (Volkswagen Gol, RC5).

Local youngster Martín Tomas (Ford Fiesta, RC5, only entered with Codasur status, also rolled and decided he would not restart on the following leg despite the car did not look necessarily terrible.  

Leg 2 (Sunday) kicks off at 8:30am and consists of five more special stages and a service park in between by mid-morning. The last of them is the Power Stage at the Capitán Miranda circuit before the finishers get to the finish at 1:30pm.

Photo: JES

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