“I couldn't say no to the Dakar”
Edvinas Juškauskas and Aisvydas Paliukénas are the latest Lithuanian pair to have been bitten by the Dakar bug as they gear up for their first participation in 2020. It all started when 32-year-old businessman Edvinas acquired a Desert Warrior from compatriot Gintas Petrus -who will also be lining up in Saudi Arabia- with a view to competing in rally raid. The manager of his newly-formed team, Linas Ramoška, identified the need for a young but experienced co-driver and brought in the highly rated Aisvydas Paliukénas, who is only 24 but already has around 40 rallies under his belt, including outings on the WRC and ERC circuits. Linas also contacted the celebrated Lithuanian mechanic Darius Biesevičius, who agreed to help out -but only if the team got hold of a car that was solid enough to handle the Dakar. As it happened, they were planning to do just that, and quickly agreed the purchase of a Toyota Hilux from Vaidotas Zala. In the space of just six months, Edvinas and Aisvydas have prepared for the adventure of a lifetime, taking part in bajas in Italy and Poland and training with members of the other Lithuanian car crews who will be tackling Dakar 2020.
A.P.: “We only met this spring. I got a call from Edvinas' manager, asking me if I wanted to do some events, and maybe the Dakar in a few years' time. We didn't even have a car, but then we bought a Hilux in early summer and thought it would be nice to do the Dakar straight away! So basically we started preparing in late spring, it's been a six-month project. My first rally was the Vilnius Rally in 2012, but I was most active in 2017, with 15 rallies -including a WRC event in Poland and an ERC event in Latvia. Classic rally is closer to my heart than rally raid, but the Dakar is a fantastic project and I couldn't say no to it. We took part in our first international events this year: the Italian Baja and Baja Poland. We had a stable base but there were some technical problems; an overheated engine in Italy, gearbox issues in Poland. But it was good preparation and we enjoyed ourselves. We've also done around 500 kilometres of testing in the dunes. We have a good relationship with the other Lithuanian drivers. We've had some training sessions with Vaidotas Zala and Benediktas Vanagas -we were also in the UAE a few weeks ago with Antanas Juknevicius. Edvinas has made really quick progress this year, so I'm confident. The main thing will be to stay calm. It's the same for everyone on the Dakar. You need to stay calm and stay sharp."
HESTON MRO TEAM PITLANE
- Mark : TOYOTA
- Model : HILUX
- Performance tuner :
- Assistance :
- Class : T1.1 petrol modified A-T 4x4
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