A conversation with Linas Vaškys about the rally in the far north of Finland
Almost 20 years of rally experience, but this was your first time at the Arctic Lapland Rally. Is this rally really worth all the great stories about it?
Definitely worth it in every sense. Real winter, special specifics of the road, long distances. In Lithuania, we usually only have about 60 non-repeating kilometers at the Reece, because we usually drive most of the special stages twice. In the Arctic Lapland rally, only one special stage made for spectators in the stadium, which is less than 4 kilometers long, is run twice. Everything else is not repeated, and the stages are 25-33 km long.
You had already tested your new car on gravel. And how does it behave on snow? How quickly did you understand the principles of driving it?
I can’t really say I’ve gotten used to the car on gravel or snow/ice, but the N5 is a very easy-to-drive car with really great capabilities. So before I can fully use it, I will still need a lot of sports kilometers.
In general, how do you change the driving style after switching from Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to the N5 technique? Is it complicated?
It’s really easy, as I mentioned – it’s a very easy-to-drive car, but it’s radically different from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The suspension of the latter is with standard construction and shock absorber travel, much heavier. Lancer is like a train in comparison, and N5 does everything much faster 🙂 Škoda Fabia N5+ is lighter, accelerates, and stops faster. Laurynas even had to change his reading because the short distances between the turns just melt away.
How did you manage to deal with such long special stages, liaisons between them, difficult weather conditions, and night?
Just the Reece itself is quite a challenge. Daylight lasts only 4-5 hours, so Laurynas put in a lot of work just planning the census schedule. Interestingly, there is no GPS, and passages through stages are not limited. We drove as much as 1,800 km in the three-a-half days of Reece. It was probably the first rally when I didn’t have enough strength and time to check the pace notes with the video recording before the start of the competition. Although the conditions were really difficult, the ride was very easy. Laurynas did his tasks perfectly, and I just needed not to make mistakes 🙂
This rally is special because of new situations needed to be understood when participating for the first time. Do you feel that you have become a better driver after this rally? How did you fill up your experience?
I don’t know if I have become better, most of the situations have been experienced in one way or another over the years, but the kilometers in a new car are very valuable. Also, this rally showed us as a crew many places where we still have to work a lot to be faster.
What happened in the tenth special stage? Do you know the reason for the failure?
In the 10th special stage on the straight, the engine simply stopped. We’re hoping it was the high-pressure fuel pump, but we won’t know until we get the car home and take it all apart.
What are your plans with Laurynas this year? Will you go abroad again?
This year we will definitely go to the full Lithuanian championship. If the winter doesn’t leave Finland, we would like to start in their championship event in March. Then we will probably have to wait for the start of the gravel season, and at the end of the year, we would like to return to Saaremaa, where we last started in 2009.
A big THANK YOU to Martynas Samsonas and his team for their invaluable help during the preparation and during the competition itself.
Photos – Roni Nyholm, Laurynas Paškevičius, Jouni Lakso