The Lithuanian rally caravan, having traveled to the western and northern regions of the country, turned a little further south, to Rally Elektrėnai. A fun-filled season has been somewhat hampered by the renewed theatre of mask’s restrictions, but the community’s stubbornness seems to be far greater than the obstacles, so we’re successfully moving on. As one canceled event is replaced by another, guests are given all the help to reach our country and although part of the Elektrėnai Rally program was canceled, it has been compensated by the pace of the participants and excellent views in the special stages. Not to mention the impressive work of the media teams when you can actually experience the rally on the couch. Not yet WRC +, but at such a pace…
The first day of the Elektrėnai Rally was completed on Friday evening in the city special stage, paying tribute to this 60-year-old settlement and the people living in it. Wisdom tells us that You cannot win the rally in such a short stage, but it is easy to lose, so respecting the word of the ancients, more than one crew had enough problems on the eve of a gravel Saturday. Some were spinning suns on the asphalt, others turned off the axles. Also wrong tire choice, penalties, and some critical mistakes led to an already ruined result even before the start of the real rally. Luckily, the night was long, enough coffee on the table, so the mechanics had a chance to make their own bread. Dominykas Butvilas, who has the most experience on the black surface, was the fastest and most accurate in the city streets. Dovilas Čiutelė also reminded of the good old days, as he was included in the top ten where it was once completely normal to see this old Lada.
And here’s the long-awaited Rally Saturday. The weather was great, making it easier for the participants to choose their tires or the clothes for the spectators. The photographers could calmly wait for the dust clouds. Four special stages, to be driven twice, were waiting for this event. The legendary roads collected in the Elektrenai area required extremely heavy right foot, perfect braking timing, and robotic precision in the steering process. And in Lithuania, this sacred trinity of actions is best synchronized by Vaidotas Žala, assisted by co-driver Andris Malnieks. Paradoxically, I should write the most about this crew, but it gets the least. V.Žala just perfectly pressed exactly what needed to be pressed and turned where it needed to turn. So that 0.71 second per kilometer (counting SS4-10 times) is really not easy for Dominykas Butvilas to find, although he has no less accuracy and even more experience. On the other hand, Dominykas has only returned this season, so I can already quietly imagine that some really epic battles will be taken in the 2021 season… Well, the last place on the podium was taken by the Latvian legend Janis Vorobjovs Vorobjovs Racing, who is famous for his wide driving. After the domination of V.Žala was established, the greatest intrigue spread among Japanese “boat” rowers. That’s how Mitsubishi Lancer Evo’s and their drivers are called in Lithuania. Unfortunately, this time the direct fight did not last long. Janis’ main competitor Giedrius Notkus ASK Autorikona crashed his time into the stone at the opening Saturday stage, but somehow he managed from 39th place and came up to 8th. Impressive speed was shown. From the rest of that rim, a pretty nice clock would come out… Even more unlucky was Vytautas Švedas, as he lost the rear reducer two times in the event. But Vytautas’ professionalism in managing the Lancer Evolution FWD allowed him to finish and give a cup to the co-pilot on his birthday. And when father and son will work with each other precisely, I think that the soul of this rally – Ramūnas Čapkauskas capkauskasracing – will return to the elite of the Mitsubishi or “boat” class. This time he had the honor to protect the fourth place from the gravel fanatics from Poland – R.Kocik / S.Wach’s crew Eurotter Rally Team. Before the last special stage, Ramūnas had a 0.4-second lead, but after the final run, the clocks showed the same 0.4-second lead, only on the other side of the barricades. But not for long – the mechanics put the wrong spare wheel in the Polish Ford Fiesta R5 and earned a minute of unwanted penalty. So the yellow Mitsubishi returned in fourth place and the white Fiesta fell to seventh. Hopefully, the border policy will not change much and we will see the follow up of this fight around the Zarasai lakes, where the last Lithuania Rally Championship round takes place. Justas Tamašauskas and Vaidas Šmigelskas Tamašauskas Racing finished the top five with their BMW M3 E. I will say just that – someone give these guys an R5 car and N. Gryazin Nikolay Gryazin will come to test the speed not only with Vaidotas Žala. As for 2WD, it is very fun to see Giedrius Firantas and Deividas Gezevičius at the finish, the return of Rokas Steponavičius GSR – Team , and the Polish K.Bubik Krzysztof Bubik Racing, who is feeling better and better on Lithuanian gravel roads. When you stack up all the BMW driver’s names, the potential to fight for a fraction of a second is enormous. And when it comes to BMW, it would be a huge shame not to mention the two red monsters carrying Samsonas names. The young man is already fastest in the Rally Sprint series, and the technical faults are attached to the Martynas Samsonas as his own shadow. But this is the sport, with its own magic, although not very pleasant at some times, so we wish him all the luck in the future.
So we are not far to the finish of the 2020 Lithuania Rally season. As strange as this year is, also season finish will be strange. It is because for a long time the season finale was held in the south of the country, sandy roads of Druskininkai. But as this event is canceled, the last stages will be driven in the northeast part, where hundreds of lakes are waiting for rally cars. See You there.
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Photo – Vilius Šaltenis