V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Rally Hungary ’24

We interview Vladas Jurkevičius, who made the most of spring by taking part in the European Rally Championship in Hungary 🙂

Vladas Jurkevičius
Aisvydas Paliukėnas

First of all, congratulations on a mature finish. Does it feel good to break the ERC curse?

Very good. For various reasons (health, tech. failures, ditches, etc.) it was very difficult to finish the ERC events.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – IR7.at

This year, the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 appeared in the SRT team’s garage. What are the team’s impressions of this new car after the first start? How much did you have to communicate with mechanics, engineers or Mr. Sesks himself about this new Toyota creation?

I definitely talked a lot about the car with all the people mentioned in the question. In addition, my coach has driven with Mr. Sesks several times in tests with Toyota. In short, it seems that the car will be a bit faster than Škoda, but not yet. First of all, the suspension travel is longer, 35 cm, while in my Škoda it is 32 cm I think. That helps a lot on rough gravel. But the car still seems a bit more difficult to control. It’s also difficult to feel the speed in the car. I think that’s the peculiarity of the 3-cylinder engine – when I drove a Rally4 Fiesta with a 3-cylinder engine, the sound of the car did not tell me how fast you were going The car’s suspension also has more adjustment possibilities than other Rally2 cars. Toyota has really put a lot of work into it and taken a lot of things directly from the Rally1 car. I think that by the end of the year, the Toyotas will already be 0.1 s/km faster than the Skodas.

M.Sesks / R.Francis – Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 ||| Photo – Martin Trdla

A bit of psychology – it seems that you came just to have a good time, but the cards fell such that you found out on Friday that there would be no result due to the road position. What did you think of that?

As we only came to practice to have a good time, we did not really think about that position. We thought about taking a time penalty and starting later, but we decided to have that experience too – to start the ERC rally first on the road. The surface was extremely slippery on the first runs, but we had an interesting experience.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas - Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo - Vitek Paldus
V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – Vitek Paldus

Your driving is known for more “circuit racing” style. How did you manage to adapt your driving style on loose and extremely slippery surfaces?

It was necessary to drive a little more aggressively than I did. The competitors did everything more bravely, which is why their times were better.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – Vitek Paldus

There were some very special special stages in Hungary, reminiscent of the Safari. How special were they for you? Where was it easy to adapt and where was it perhaps more difficult?

During the reece, the condition of the road seemed to be bad – lots of potholes, stones, ditches. I could not adapt to such a surface and drove slower than others. Where I thought it was dangerous to drive so as not to destroy the tires or damage the suspension, all the leaders drove bravely. This rally made me realize that the limits of suspension and tire penetration are further than I thought.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – Jan Šmerda

The tire game was particularly important in this rally. Tell us more about it: How did you protect the tires, did you perhaps get help from the team or from Pirelli engineers? Perhaps the Dakar experience also helped?

We received information from the Pirelli engineers about the recommended tire pressure, but in my opinion it was wrong. Their main interest was to show that their tires are hard to puncture, so they recommended extremely high pressures. This further damaged the tires and reduced traction. Anyway, it was an interesting experience when you leave the service with new tires and after one stage these tires already look like we will not even take them for test sessions in Lithuania. But we drove on and that was it.

After your last start in the ERC, you took a year off. How much has ERC changed now? What do you think of the idea, the concept and the variety of the competition in the ERC Championship?

I think the competition in the ERC events is increasing. The top five or even ten are fighting really hard. One or two years ago there was less competition.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas - Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – Bitto Zsolt

You mentioned about the incident where your car would have been given the new code chassis #101D. What happened there?

I will show a photo of what we saw from the inside when we were on the 5th gear. After a turn over the jump, the car was thrown to the outside and on the next crest we hit a bump on the side of the road that lifted one side of the car sharply. Good thing we were able to react quickly (reflexes of the Richard Burns rally game) and got everything back in order, but Aisvydas and I were already thinking that we would have to pack our things home.

What are your next plans in Lithuania and abroad?

The next rally will be the first event of the Lithuanian rally in Lazdijai. I do not have any plans for other starts abroad yet, we will see how the situation develops.

V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas - Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
V.Jurkevičius / A.Paliukėnas – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ||| Photo – Martin Trdla

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Rally Hungary results

Photos IR7.at, Jan Šmerda, Bitto Zsolt, Martin Trdla, Vitek Paldus