(ltu) 1.83m / 80kg


Arijus, RNDV, Unique, Siauliu bankas, Skoda, Husqvarna, X-raid Team

2023: Ab. Stage 12
2022: 11th
2021: Ab. Stage 2
2020: 26th (1 stage win)
2019: 12th
2018: 18th
2017: Ab. Stage 5
2016: Ab. Stage 11

2023: Gravel Fest Rally Lazdijai (1st) / Baja Aragon (3rd) / Rally Rokiskis (1st) / Rally Elektrenai (1st)
2022: Rally Poland (41st) / Rally Liepaja (Ab.)
2021: Andalucia Rally (11th) / Rally Zemaitija (1st) / Orlen Lietuva Rally (1st) / Rally Elektrenai (1st)
2020: Lithuanian Rally Championship (1st) / Rally Zemaitija (1st) / Samsonas Rally Rokiskis (2nd) / Rally Elektrenai (1st) / Samsonas Rally Around 7 Lakes (2nd)
2019: Lithuanian Rally Championship (1st) / Rally Zemaitija (1st) / Rally Elektrenai (1st) / Samsonas Rally Rokiskis (1st) / Rally Classic (1st)
2018: Rally Classic (1st), Rally Elektrenai (2nd), Samsonas Rally Rokiskis (1st), Rally Zemaitija (1st)
2017: Samsonas Rally Rokiskis (4th), Rally Zemaitija (7th)
2016: 300 Lakes Rally (1st), Rally Zemaitija (3rd)
2015: Classic Rally Druskininkai (1st), DHL Rally Elektrenai (1st), 300 Lakes Rally (2nd)
2014: Classic Rally Druskininkai (1st), Ralis Kauno Ruduo (4th), Rally Zemaitija (4th)
2013: Classic Rally Druskininkai (5th), Rally Ozerniy Kray (1st), Halls Winter Rally (7th)


“A clean run is essential to have that final result”

One of the top drivers from rally-mad Lithuania, Vaidotas Zala always comes to the Dakar with big ambitions. The 36-year-old has been passionate about motorsport since he was a boy, but it was only in his early 20s -after completing his university studies in the UK- that he began his racing career in traditional rally. He went on to establish himself as a national star, winning the Lithuanian Rally Championship in 2019 and 2020. By then he had already fulfilled a childhood dream of doing the Dakar, making his debut in 2016, but his first two appearances ended in retirements due to mechanical issues with a Lithuanian-built Seat. The switch to a Toyota Hilux for the next two editions yielded more positive results, with Vaidotas coming as high as 12th in 2019. And in 2020 -now driving an X-raid Mini- he made headlines by winning the first ever stage in Saudi Arabia, outpacing heavy hitters like Stephane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al Attiyah. The Vilnius native clearly has the speed and talent to finish in the top 10 -a feat no Baltic competitor has ever achieved in the cars- but mechanical problems have often been his Achilles heel. Dakar 2023 was a case in point. Vaidotas decided to get behind the wheel of a Prodrive Hunter, but his overall hopes were ruined by a puncture-strewn second day. He nevertheless posted some quality stage times, finishing second behind Yazeed Al Rajhi on Stage 7 and second behind Sebastien Loeb on Stage 9, when he was just 57 seconds off the pace. Ultimately, though, there was more frustration than celebration, and a broken gearbox on the marathon stage forced him to retire for the fourth time in eight outings. For Dakar number nine, Vaidotas has decided to return to the X-raid Mini with which he notched his best result in 2022 (11th). For the fourth straight edition he is joined by Paulo Fiuza, one of the top co-drivers in rally-raid, who notably guided Peterhansel to third place in 2020.

V.Z.: “Dakar 2023 was one of the most challenging editions of the past eight years. The Hunter is a fast car, but we had a lot of technical issues over the course of the race. All the days without major issues we finished top 10. It’s good that we have the speed. We just need more technical reliability and a bit of luck. I’m a bit anxious about the final two stages of the next edition, because the stones around Alula are so sharp. You have to go like a taxi driver around them! I think the penultimate day will be a game-changer. We lost our title sponsor after the last Dakar, so it seemed our chances of starting Dakar 2024 were lower than 50%. It was only at the end of September that we signed up Arijus as a title sponsor and started moving again. We’ve done three Dakars with X-raid, but never within their structure. I assigned my two best mechanics to work within X-raid, they’ve already spent two weeks in the workshop. The car looks quite fresh, we're really satisfied with the potential and the speed. The car’s nickname is Mazylis+. In Lithuania, 'Mazylis' is a sweet name for a small kid. It's still our sweet car, just a bigger version! So now it's been upgraded to Mazylis+. We had a chance to test at Baja Aragon in July and came third. If it’s fast enough in those rally-type stages, I’m confident we can do well in the Dakar. If you have the speed, you can always keep yourself in the top 10. It’s a bit of a game, up and down, and you need to stay within certain limits. It requires skill and a bit of luck as well. Paulo is great, he has a real sixth sense about where to go. The maximum time we spend in any tricky spots is a couple of minutes. His accuracy is overwhelming.”

P.F.: “Motorsport has been a dream since I was a child, because WRC cars used to compete near my home. It was really fascinating to me. I started out as a rally co-driver and later became a cross-country co-driver. My best memory in the sport is when I become Stephane Peterhansel’s co-driver. Vaidotas and I are also excellent companions in the car. We stay calm and enjoy the Dakar a lot. Our main goal is to win as many stages as possible and to finish in the top five.”




  • MINI
  • Arijus X-raid
  • Arijus X-raid
  • T1+: Prototype Cross-Country Cars 4x4

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