The Chaco Rally is a car competition of resistance. It is organized by stages and in different places and climates. In Paraguay, the rally is the second most important sport competition after soccer. The one with most fans and the most traditional is the Trans-Chaco Rally, which has been recurrent since 1971.
For the Trans-Chaco Rally, an event of great importance in the national sports, to start being organized in the country a lot of things had to happen, which make the success almost a legend.
Phillip Bell, a North-American citizen, employee of Adviser Company of Corposana (Corporation of Sanitary Work) of Paraguay had the idea to bring the rally-raid to the Gran Chaco region. Bell had become familiar with rally of the last century with the Safari African Rally.
Bell was fascinated by the landscape of Chaco and thought that the soil was appropriate for a sport like rally. Since he couldn’t organize it all by himself he presented his project to the Touring and Automovil Club Paraguayo (Paraguayan Touring and Automobile Club) around the late ’70. The Directive Commission approved the project in June 1971 and then started to think about which would be journey and organized an exploratory committee.
In mid July of ’71 a group traveled to Chaco. This group was conformed by three automobiles and a crew of seven men, led by the engineer Victor Rubén Dumot, accompany by Francisco Escanciano (representing the Dunhill International, who would sponsor of the event), Dario González Palacios (cameraman). This trio traveled in a pick-up Willys; Germán Russo (pilot and mechanic) and Jorge Himmelreich (pilot, mechanic and German translator) in a kombi VW.
The route of the first stage extended from the entire Trans-Chaco (an unpaved track) to the Fort Nueva Asunción. The second stage started in Nueva Asunción and went to Mister Long and Gabino Mendoza, but the plan was discarded because it was impossible to advance with a simple vehicle, dunes were common in that part of the territory. Then they used an alternative route of Pozo Olga to Mision Santa Rosa, that is still used nowadays and from there went to Mariscal Estigarribia. The third stage completed the return road from Mariscal Estigarribia to Asunción by the Trans-Chaco route.
After it was confirmed that the track was good to use, the date of the event was settled: September of ’71.
It was necessary to get funds and then appeared Francisco Escanciano, from the Dunhill International (a British tobacco company) that, besides sponsoring the event, donated also a trophy as a prize to the winner of the three stages. The trophy is made in silver and some parts in gold covering; it is saved in the display cabinet of the club and with the years has become the icon of this rally.
The first edition
The first edition started by the end of September and coincided with the day 29, anniversary of the Battle of Boquerón. For the classification of winner was established an admission of car system in two categories, according to the motors of the car: the class “A”, with propulsion of 1300 cc and the class “B” with more than 1300 cc. The first Trans-Chaco Rally has as winner the duo formed by Marcos Peña McCoy and Pedro Federer with a Toyota 1000 in class “A” and the trio “Pavo” Bittar, Fernando “Melón” Dupot and Elpidio “Pilo” Caballero with a Mercedes Benz 2205 in class “B”.
In ’72 joined the list of the national sport the names that later will become the most famous “pioneers”: Gerardo “Karajá” Planás and Héctor Omar “Negro” Risso, with a VW Beetle 1300 in the class “A” and in the class “B”, Humberto Domínguez Dibb, Roberto Sánchez and Narciso Ramírez Patiño.
This format with two winner was maintained until 1976, year in which was established the classification of one and only general winner. The popular winner duo was the one formed by Carlos Calvo and Juan Bautista “Juanbi” Gill with a Toyota Celica. This edition passed to the history, because the crew of the vehicle had to make its way through gunshots to the air in the muddy territory of Campo Aroma. The photograph taken by the correspondent of the Argentina newspaper “El Gráfico” were published everywhere around the globe giving testimony of this particular event.
The organization of the Rally was suspended because of the distrust of the power centers, because of the evolution and popularity of it that was in hands outside the government. In ’87 the activities started again and in this edition the winner were Bubby Luthold and José Manuel Abreu with a Peugeot 505.
In the edition of 2005, the winner was Alejandro “Ale” Galanti with Marcelo Toyotoshi in a Toyota Corolla WRC and in 2006; Francisco “Pancho” Gorostiaga was the winner.
In 2007, Gorostiaga won again the first place and this way became the three times champion of the competition.
Year after year the Chaco is the place of gathering for thousand of Paraguayan and foreign people with passion for the velocity, cars and adrenaline.
Winners of the Trans-Chaco Rally
Qualification in two categories Year Category Pilot Co-Pilot Crew Car 1971 A Peña Marcos Federer Pedro Toyota 1000 B Roberto “Pavo” Bittar Fernando “Melón” Dumot Elpidio “Pilo” Caballero M. Benz 2205 1972 A Planás Gerardo Risso Héctor Omar VW 113 1300 B Domínguez Humberto Sánchez Roberto Ramirez Narciso Peugeot 404 1973 A Calvo Juan Carlos Yamamoto MItsunobu Toyota Corola 1300 B Kalssen Enrique Samudio Mariano Peugeot 404 1974 A Calvo Juan Carlos Risso Héctor Omar Toyota Corola 1300 B “Lucho” Molinas Ferreira Fabio Peugeot 504 1975 A Calvo Juan Carlos Di Tore Augusto Toyota Corola 1300 B “Lugo” Molinas Ferreira Fabio LenguazaVictoriano Peugeot 504
Year Category Pilot Co-Pilot Car 1976 Gral. Calvo Juan Carlos Gill Juan Bautista Toyota Célica GT RA28 2000 1977 Gral. Risso Héctor Omar Di Tore Roberto Ford Escort RS Cosworth 1978 Gral. Planás Gerardo Weiler Gerardo Toyota Célica RA28 2000 1979 Gral. Silguero Luis Molas Edgar Toyota Célica RA28 2000 1980 Gral. Risso Héctor Omar Di Tore Roberto Ford Escort RS Cosworth 1981 Gral. Galanti Marco Monges Mario Ford Escort RS Cosworth 1982 Gral. Jaeggli Alfredo Luis De Baraht Zolt Datsun 160J 2000 1983 Gral. Planás Gerardo Ferrara Miguel Toyota Célica Levin 2000
1987 Gral. Luthold Bubby 1988 Gral. Sanabria Nelson 1989 Gral. Penner Orlando 1990 Gral. Molas Edgar 1991 Gral. Galanti Marco 1992 Gral. Penner Orlando 1993 Gral. Pedro Fadul 1994 Gral. Penner Orlando 1995 Gral. Tomboly Denes 1996 Gral. Galanti Marco (h) 1997 Gral. Grillón José Carlos 1998 Gral. Planás Gerardo 1999 Gral. Masi Martín María 2000 Gral. Masi Martín María 2001 Gral. Domíngues Diego 2002 Gral. Francisco Gorostiaga “Pancho” 2003 Gral. Arias Didier 2004 Gral. Arias Didier 2005 Gral. Galanti Alejandro 2006 Gral. Gorostiaga Francisco “Pancho” 2007 Gral. Gorostiaga Francisco “Pancho”
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