Rally de la Republica is round 5 of the 2018 Paraguayan Champioinship. It started last night with a superspecial around the two parking lots of the Minga Guazú Airport, the nearest airfield to Ciudad del Este in the east of the country and second largest city.
However, the service park is located in Yguazú, about 30 kilometers from the main regional town.. The event is called “Tribute to Reinaldo Almeida” after the late Vicepresident 2nd of the Cetro Paraguayo de Volantes, the organizing association in charge of 7 out of 8 rounds scheduled by the national series. Almedia passed away 15 days ago after several years as a C.P.V. member.
For a second time, the scrutineering is torn in two. It had a first part in Asunción last Wednesday for most of the teams are based around the capital. 40 cars were checked there, while yesterday in the early morning other 13 coming from the surrounding areas were given permission to start the rally, making a total of 53.
Because this round is longer than usual (being the Transchaco Rally next September the only other exception), it is considered like a Coefficient 1 event, which means it gives 1.5 times more points than the rest.
Many spectators went to follow the 2.5-km special Stage last night. Gustavo Saba (co-driven by Fernando Mussano) emerged as fastest overall (and in class RC2) with a Škoda Fabia R5. Their time was 1m18s96/100, six tenths quicker than Miguel Zaldívar/Rubén García and 1.24s than veterans Pedro Fadul/Hans Thiede, both of them also ob board of Czech cars. Main delays were those of the Hyundai i20 driven by Diego Domínguez braking late in a hairpin (he had to select reverse gear) and the Ford Fiesta of Luis Maldonado (h) with a water leak in the radiator a mere 400 meters after the start which ended in the alarrn switched on the dashboard of the car entered by the ABR team owned by team mate Augusto Bestard.
Other class winner is SS1 were César Martínez (h) in RC2N (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X), Elías Benítez in RC2NL (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX), Fabrizio Zaldívar in RC3 (Citroën DS3 Max), Diego Domínguez (h) in RC4 (Peugeot 208 R2), Christian Clari in RC4L (Volkswagen Gol) and Diego Riveros in RC5 (Volkswagen Gol).
This is the rally held in the east end of the Paraguayan map. Normally, the surface shows a gravel with a more remarkable reddish tone than other venues, although the stages can occasionally offer white and darker dust. Most of the times the average speeds are very high.
Some of the most attractive stages are run close to the Cargill farms plenty of eucalyptus (where rally marshalls need to carry leg protection to avoid being bitten by the many snakes found there), Estancia Paranambú or the Paradise Resort which goes through a golf camp, an artificial lake and some nice woods.
Yesterday noon, the Shakedown made in the Yguazú loose gravel circuit was won by Diego Domínguez and Edgardo Galindo (Hyundai i20 R5) among the four-wheel drive cars and Fabrizio Zaldívar (Citroën DS3 Max) among the two-wheel drive.
Place and climate
The region hosting this event is home of about 295,000 people, most of them coming from different cultures, so much so that in the commercial streets of the main cities or even in some farms 25 languages can be heard in a short distance (Spanish, Guaraní, Portuguese, Arab, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German). The small town of Yguazú where the service park is located is a place founded by Japanese farmers who turned the place into the national wheat capital, even if the region is also strong in soy, corn, mint, sugar cane, citrus, mandioca, sweet potato, rice, peas and cow and pig cattles, as well as in forests such as cedar, lapacho and incense and a few auto part industries. This is the state where the largest hydroelectric dam in the world was built, called Itaipú.
The weather forecast told about cloudy skies before the start, but it is actually sunny by Saturday noon and with temperatures that the past week, which was chilly.
Special stages: 13 (in 7 different roads).
Leg 1 distance: 368,30 km
Leg 2 distance: 202,60 km
Total distance: 566,54 km (220,64 SS and 345,60 road sections).
Stage winners so far (four rounds held)
Ovealll: Alejandro Galanti 13, Diego Domínguez 12, Gustavo Saba 10.
RC2: Alejandro Galanti 13, Diego Domínguez 12, Gustavo Saba 10.
RC2N: Agustín Alonso 23, Fabrizio Chiriani 16, Miguel Ortega (h) 6..
RC2NL: Eduardo Salerno 34, Oscar Napout 9, Ricardo Escauriza 5.
RC3: Juan Martín Masi 18, Fabrizio Zaldívar 13, Jorge Cresta 8.
RC4: Diego Domínguez (h) 43, Álvaro Yaluk 4, Miguel Cabral 2.
RC4L: Hugo Cano 22, Diego García 15, André Allegretti 6.
RC5: Alexandro Paniagua 18, Nicolás Baeza 16, Pedro Ruiz 7.
Photo credit: Luis Acosta,