“We want to enjoy ourselves”
Gintas Petrus has been taking part in the Dakar since the Africa days, making his debut in a rather rudimentary Toyota Land Cruiser in 2002. Along with Viktoras Kastelionis, he became just the second Lithuanian to compete the rally that year, with his pioneering performance paving the way for fellow countrymen such as Antanas Juknevicius, Benediktas Vanagas and Vaidotas Zala to discover the Dakar; no fewer than five Lithuanian car crews will be lining up in 2021. After a long hiatus -he never took part in the Dakar in South America- Gintas returned to the rally last year, finishing in 41st place alongside former biker Tomas Jancys in a Toyota Hilux. This year, he has switched to an Optimus EVO3 Buggy, which he says is a bit easier on the back once you've reached 55 years of age! The Chevrolet-powered vehicle still packs a serious punch, though, and helped French duo Jerome Pelichet and Pascal Larroque come as high as 11th overall in 2020. For his second outing in Saudi Arabia, Gintas has teamed up Povilas Valaitis, with whom he has done two editions of the Africa Eco Race and the 2018 Turkmen Desert Race. They didn't have much opportunity to train throughout the coronavirus-affected season; although even in a normal year, much of Gintas's time is occupied by his five children, who are still a bit young to discover the delights of rally raid! Ultimately, for the Petrus Kombucha team, the Dakar is more about enjoying the adventure than worrying about overall position, even if they are still keen to discover some new landscapes across the Arabian Peninsula.
G.P.: “We did a couple of tests on the track here with the new buggy, but that's about it. It feels good. I haven't done any racing in the 2WD category, but the suspension is really inspiring. The comfort it provides for the driver is great. When you get past 50 you want to save your back a bit more and have a softer ride. I hope we'll enjoy it! I'll only be able to say if it was a good deal after the race. We will have to get to know the car in the first couple of stages, and go from there! We're trying to prepare as much as we can. Povilas and I have done two Africa Eco Races, plus the Turkmen Desert Race in 2018. He couldn't go to the Dakar last year, but now he's ready. He's an outdoorsy kind of guy, good to have around on the bivouac and in unanticipated situations. I think we'll have a good time in Saudi Arabia. It's good to see a new country and lots of desert, although maybe we were missing some proper sandy dunes last year. The dunes were a bit wet, and at night it was quite cold. Last year was different but also challenging, and in general we enjoyed it. I hope to see more of the country. But we understand the constraints of the virus, politics, it's not so easy. It's a challenge in itself just to have a race. Maybe eventually we'll see the Dakar back in Africa, who knows? Personally I prefer Mauritania, but Saudi is different. In terms of race organisation and competitiveness it's nicely done. At Dakar you have the best racers, the best teams, so for sure it's nice to be part of it. Originally, we planned to leave just before New Year's and come back in two weeks, but now with Covid-19 it's a three-week vacation. Yes, Dad is escaping for three weeks! An extra bonus week. We're looking forward to it. I'm sure everybody is excited about getting to the start. For us it's more like an adventure, a challenge. We'll try to do our best, but overall we want to enjoy ourselves."
PETRUS KOMBUCHA TEAM
- Mark : OPTIMUS
- Model : CHEVROLET
- Performance tuner : Petrus Kombucha Team
- Assistance : Petrus Kombucha Team
- Class : T1.3 petrol 2-wheel drive
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