This year, every Lithuanian motorsport enthusiasts found interesting phenomena. On the sad side, the first two rounds of the Lithuanian Rally Championship were canceled when winter forgot to visit this part of Europe. But at the beginning of January, serious men shook hands and lifted their hats and helmets against Vaidotas Žala and Saulius Jurgelėnas which drove the Dakar’s first stage as the leaders should drive, fast and error-free, winning the opener. Then, at the other end of the world, young Gustas Grimbergas stepped on the podium in Australia as the LMP2 AM winner in the Asia Le Mans series. And in the end, when you turned on the broadcast of the World Rally Championship, you could see and hear something that few Lithuanians have even dreamed of. There, in the French Alps, M-Sport car was guided with Lithuanian pace notes with Deividas Jocius behind the wheel. He is the first Lithuanian to start with the WRC car in modern WRC history. So briefly I will honor this event -Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo
I don’t know when Deividas came up with the idea of reaching the Rally Olymp in 2000 when he started his rally career, or later, but the first news about plans in WRC reached out in 2008. In the media, photos of a Lithuanian beside newly bought Citroen Xsara WRC started to occur. That Xsara was driven by S.Loeb himself at the World Rally Championship. At the end of that year, D. Jocius began his WRC adventure with the N4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX in the WRC rally Wales. Unfortunately, it took nine years to wait for another start at the World Rally Championship. The global financial crisis has cut many wings and forced companies to look at spending, especially not of primary importance. The Xsara WRC project then collapsed, but not faith. Fans cheered the driver in Lithuania and Latvia rally events when 2017 came. Eighty-fifth Monte Carlo Rally and number 90 crew were with Lithuania flags on side windows. This time, they failed to finish, but the information gathered helped further adventures in southeastern France. The not-so-successful 2017 season ended with an accident after which many would probably not even get in the car. 13 broken bones were the cost. But here are 2018 and 4 starts in WRC with R2 class technique, after an insanely quick recovery. A few more years, great friendships and partnerships with M-Sport and here we are, at the beginning of this article. This is just a very brief summary, I think putting together all the material would make for a great book, about a 20-year journey towards a dream.
Another thing I really want to mention is growth. It was cool to follow Deividas and Mindaugas’ almost perfectly smooth results curve. Through these years I remember a lot of Deividas crashes and over pushes. And lately, with the move to World Rally Championship matters, a much bigger maturity has emerged and is very encouraging. And to become part of the M-Sport team – a big wow indeed.
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Photo – Bastian Roux