The fifth edition of Rally de la República never stopped being a surprise to everyone. When everything seemed just in place for Luis Maldonado Jr. and Jorge González to catch their first ever national overall win, the Škoda Fabia R5 driver suddenly was seen stopped and out of his car, checking where a strong noise came from his car. The time loss meant he was overtaken by Alejandro Galanti and Leonardo Suaya in the Toyota Etios, winners of the event based at Carapeguá, where he had also been Víctor in November last year.
Galanti’s unexpected success in round 3 of the 2019 Paraguayan Championship brought the series a third different winner, each of them competing with a different manufacturer. Also the podium here was of the assorted kind because Miguel Zaldívar and Diego Cagnotti completed it in a Volkswagen Polo GTI.
The third and last leg of the event was not easier than the da before which had proved extremely tough with lead changes and retirements, including those like Agustín Alonso’s Fabia R5 and Blas Zapag’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X during the last few kilometers of the intermediate day.
Yesterday, Gustavo Saba was fast when rejoining the rally, but retired his Volkswagen again, so that 21 out of the 39 crews entered made it to the finish.
The last leg, consisting of six special stages, was dominated by Diego Domínguez in his Hyundai i20, another of the leading names who had to rejoin the event yesterday. He also took some extra points home by being fastest in the Power Stage.
However, it was Alejandro Galanti who grabbed top honours (and RC2 Pro class) in 2h24m28.96s. Maldonado was second, 24.96s behind him. When everybody believed he would be the lucky one, the stopped in the penultimate stage (15) after hearing a scary noise in his Škoda, but the gap he had was never enough to retain the lead, so he fell to second by choosing to personally check what was going on.
Zaldívar was 31.21s slower than the Toyota in a happier day for him than the other two, when brake problems were an issue on his Polo. José Luis Jacquet decided to return to the national chamoionship and here he finished fourth thanks to a consistent pace in his Fabia.
Father and son were promoted to fifth and sixth positions in a couple of Mitsubishis. The homonymous César Martínez were the best in the RC2N Pro class, beating Fernando Servín.
Youngster Álvaro Yaluk was a remarkable eighth overall. Co-driven by Bolivia’s Fabrizio Roca, Yaluk was the best 2WD car driver in a Citroën DS3. He had to wait since Villarrica last year to climb to the top of the podium yesterday.
The Mec-Car entrant took one place better than Andrea Lafarja, whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X had a list of problems that she overcame to complete her second event in the category.
Diego Elizeche was the last of the Top 10 lot, winning RC3 class in a Honda Civic Si that had gearbox inconveniences like in Leg 2, although this time he found it particularly difficult with the third speed.
Other division winners were Rodrigo Ocampos (Honda Civic Type R) in RC4, Federico Ramírez (Toyota Etios) in RC4L and a quick learning Rafael Saurini (eleventh overall) not only in RC5, but also in the debut of the Etios Cup.
Rally del Alto Paraná will be round 4 near Ciudad del Este (27th-29th July).
-Photo: Alejandro Galanti/Leonardo Suaya (Toyota Etios R5, overall winners). Crédito: Nicolás Ermakoff/Prensa CPV.