Por Juan Cruz Mathus
After last night’s start with a night superspecial Stage at the Sicredi track with two cars running at the same time, Rally de Erechim continued today with the longest part of its first leg.
Yesterday, the top time (3m47.0s) by Gustavo Saba (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) and Alejandro Galanti (Toyota Etios R5). This morning, the action began early with participants facing seven stages in southern Brazil.
The first test was won by Diego Domínguez (Hyundai i20 R5), half a second faster than Galanti and 3.2s clear of Saba. Top local entrant was Paulo Nobre in fourth place (Škoda Fabia R5).
The Toyota coming from Paraguay used a Dmack soft tyre compound which performed well in the third special Stage and headed the times again, this time over Saba who was determined to reduce his gap with the others.
Although the Hyundai was leading until then, the Volkswagen driver was strong after SS4, winning the second pass through Sao Roque-Kerber Mix by a 9.5s margin. Saba would widen that gap even more a Little later, but in SS7 it was Diego Domínguez and Héctor Nunes who came back to form.
In the afternoon, about 20,000 people went to the superspecial circuit again and, together with their entry fee, each of them donated one kilo of food for charity.
Domínguez was sixth tenths of a second quicker than Gustavo Saba, but the current Sudam champion ended the day as the overall leader, co-driven by Fernando Mussano. His leg time was 59m35.3s, 12.4s better than his old-time rival and fellow countryman.
The duo formed by Augusto Bestard and Edgardo Galindo is third in a lone Ford Fiesta from the top class (RC2). They are all from Paraguay. Fifth place goes to Bolivean Roberto Saba and Claudio Ocampo in a Fabia, just ahead of the Volkswagen Polo Maxi Rally driven by Argentina’s Augusto D’Agostini.
Eduardo Peredo leads the RC2N pack in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and is seventh overall, followed by another competitor from Bolivia, Carlo García, in an identical car. Best Brazilians crew so far is Juliano and Rafael Sartori, ninth in a Polo MR.
Tenth and first two-wheel drive user is Diego Domínguez Jr. at the Wheel of a Peugeot 208 R2, top RC4 crew. Miguel Cabral made it to the service park just on time to replace the damaged gearbox of his Honda Civic Type R and become the only RC3 survivor. Multiple Codasur class champion Luis Tedesco is the man to beat in RC5 with a Fiat Palio of his own team based at Florianópolis.
Among national series entrants, Milton and André Pagliosa won this first leg in a Lancer Evo X RC2, edging Sartori by 1m15.8s and Vítor Fischer (Lancer Evo IX) by 2m06.3s. José Barros (Peugeot 207) is first in the RC4 division and Evandro Carbonerra (Fiat Palio) in RC5.
Some of the leading drivers are the same when speaking about the regional Gaúcho Championship, with the exceptions of Alexandre Figueiredo, RC2 winner (Citroën DS3 Maxi Rally), Cristiano Beus (Palio RC3) and Tedesco (Palio RC4).
Rally de Erechim second leg starts tomorrow at 8:33 (local time) with SS9 and finishes by noon with the popular Verduleiros test which will be done twice. It will be four more stages, including 65,30 kms at full speed and 55,22 km of road sections, making a 120,52 km total distance. Prize giving should be done first time in the afternoon at the Accie Service Park.