There quite a number of rally masters born or raised in Lithuania. And most of them are known for Lithuanians. But there is one Lithuanian surname that is well known in the World Rally Community, especially in Australia, and vice versa in Lithuania. Fred Gocentas.
Dyteris Manfredas Gocentas, later better known simply as Fred Gocentas, was born in western Lithuania in 1940. In 1944 he went to Germany with his parents and from there he traveled to Australia as refugees. The journey to the heights of the classic rally began on this continent. Besides of motorsport, Manfred held senior positions in Australian public institutions.
It all started when Lithuanian living in Australia was 29 years old. After studying the art of navigation even before the first start, and sitting behind the wheel, Fred attended amateur rallies for a couple of years. And he got more attention in 1971. This time at the Alpine Rally, the crew went undefeated despite serious competition. It took several more years for the Lithuanian career to take a major leap forward. With Scott rally legend Andrew Cowan, who recently left this world, the old Mitsubishi factory team car won the prestigious and one of the world’s toughest Southern Cross rally. This rally stretched in southern Australia, where it took less than a week to cross 2,000 km special stages and half as many road sections. Fred and Andrew won the challenge twice in 1975 and 1976.
A partnership with Australian rally legend Greg Carr, which lasted 11 years, later emerged. Through them, the men represented the Australian Ford team, drove the Fiat Abarth 131 for three years, and were named Australian Champions with the Alfa Romeo GTV6 in 1987.
Since 1988, Fred and Andrew Cowan have reconnected. Cowan had already become the team leader of Mitsubishi Ralliart. Here Lithuanian read the pace notes to Japanese legend Kenjiro Shinozuka while driving Mitsubishi Galant VR4. Despite being part of the manufacture Mitsubishi team, this Japanese is still a Dakar legend who has run 22 times in this marathon, including 1997 win with Mitsubishi. Lithuanian was also honored to sit for a long time next to another Australian legend – Ross Dunkerton. Also, Manfred’s read the notes to Abdulah Al-Qassimi, a brother of well-known Khalid Al-Qassimi. The crew attended various Middle East rallies. By the way, the Lithuanian starts with Abdulah were the last of his career. In 2008, Fred and Abdulah participated in the Syrian and WRC Jordan rally. There they were the fastest among the N4 class participants.
Fred Gocent has attended more than 120 different rallies over the course of his career, so that’s only a small part of what he has achieved. After mixing all of East and West Asia in a rally car, the Lithuanian visited Great Britain several times. With Greg Carr and Ford Escort, they were ranked 10th in the WRC Lombard RAC. Unfortunately, this legend did not appear in Lithuania. I do not know the reasons, but it is written that since 2000, Fred has represented the birthplace. Many Australian co-drivers have learned lessons from Lithuanian. Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was even a co-driver school founded by Fred. And after all, the memoir says it was a very funny person who always shared his knowledge and experience with everyone. And he did that until his death in 2013 when he was 72 years old.
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