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N°214 Coche TOYOTA GAZOO RACING BALTICS

BENEDIKTAS VANAGAS

(ltu) 1.73m / 86kg

Aficiones

Chess, badminton

Sponsors

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, STIHL, Scandagra, Trelo, Toyota Baltic, Vostok Europe, Skaylink, Lenovo, Baltijos plienas, Vikonda, Sandtler, Think Pad, Skaylink, Snap On Business Solutions, Jung, Litilit

2022: Ab. Stage 5
2021: 12th
2020: 15th
2019: 11th
2018: 30th
2017: Ab.
2016: 26th
2015: 24th
2014: 35th
2013: 65th

2022: Italian Baja, Hungarian Baja (1st), Baja Poland
2021: Baja Poland (3rd), Italian Baja (3rd)
2019: Baja Russia (3rd), Dubai International Baja (5th)
2018: Winter Rally (1st)
2017: FIA Baltic Rally Trophy (1st)
2016: Palanga 1000km Race (1st)
2015: Italian Baja (6th)
2013: Palanga 1000km Race (1st)
2012: Palanga 1000km Race (2nd, qualifying), Lithuania Rally Championship (3rd N4 class), Rally Sweden WRC (4th N4 class)
2010: Silk Way Rally (7th, 1 stage win), Ladoga Trophy (2nd TR1 class, 7 stage wins)
2009: Silk Way Rally (8th), Ladoga Trophy (2nd TR1 class, 3 stage wins)

Interview

“We both understand how difficult the Dakar is!”

It was one of the most spectacular images of Dakar 2022. On Stage 4, Benediktas Vanagas suffered a massive high-speed crash, jumping a dune and flipping his Toyota Hilux several times. Miraculously, neither he nor co-driver Filipe Palmeiro were injured, although they were forced to abandon the rally the following day. It was only the second time in 10 participations that Benediktas had failed to go the distance at the Dakar, which he first entered in 2013. The 45-year-old has been racing since his late teens -joking that he realised he “didn't know how to drive” after an early training session- and got his first taste of cross-country at the 2009 Silk Way Rally. As well as becoming a familiar face on the Dakar, he has continued to participate in classic rally events in the Baltics, and occasionally works as a zero car driver. Benediktas has come mighty close to a top-10 finish in the cars at the Dakar, missing out by the narrowest of margins -just five measly seconds!- in 2019. He says it's about time a Baltic competitor finished in the top 10 at the world's toughest rally, and he certainly has the car for it this year: a T1+ Toyota Hilux with a V6 turbo engine, the same model with which Nasser Al-Attiyah won Dakar 2022. Like the Qatari, Benediktas has the support of Toyota Gazoo Racing, as he represents their regional Baltics team. He also has a new co-driver for this 45th edition: Estonia's Kuldar Sikk, who boasts over 100 starts as a WRC co-driver, and previously worked with 2019 world champion Ott Tänak. Benediktas and Kuldar have had some success in bajas this year, winning in Hungary, and even if they know the Dakar will be a very different animal, they’re still determined to land that long-awaited first top-10 finish for their region.


B.V.: “You know, I'm a soldier in my motorsport life, but I'm also a soldier in the Lithuanian army. We're used to doing missions and doing our job. If I’d needed to drive another day, I would have done it. We have a new car for Dakar 2023. So we feel like we have the car to do a good job. Kuldar is a very experienced co-driver. In classic rally he's worked with drivers like Ott Tänak, many years ago. So he's not new to motorsport, but cross-country is a new discipline. This year we worked together on bajas to get used to navigation in these types of rallies. We won the Hungarian Baja and we’re planning to do some desert training in Morocco in December. So we feel like we’ll be prepared for Dakar 2023. In general, I could call Kuldar a future investment. I’d say he’ll be one of the best co-drivers in Dakar after a few years. We feel very good together, but we both understand how difficult the Dakar is. I can’t say that we feel unbreakable or whatever. We know that we can make mistakes, but then even the best drivers and co-drivers make mistakes as well. In Dakar, first of all you need to finish. This coming edition, coast to coast, seems like it’s getting back to the roots; I’m really looking forward to it. So first of all we finish. Secondly, Lithuanian and Baltic competitors have always struggled to get into the top 10. I think we've been worthy of a top-10 finish in the past. Some years ago, we came 11th and we were five seconds off 10th, can you believe it? The whole Dakar, 5000 kilometres, and it came down to five seconds! So for sure we need to finally do that job. I think one day we will even be in the top five. In Lithuania we are knights, we are really warriors. We have everything to get good results, and the car is the tool to generate results. So we're planning to fight!”

K.S.: “I've been following the Dakar for a few years already, and whenever Nasser came to do traditional rallies we would listen to his stories about Dakar with great interest. When I started working for the Estonian Federation, I wasn't really thinking about any active participation in any kind of motorsport. But when Benediktas asked me if I would like to try, I didn't have to think for very long before I said yes! I'm feeling a bit nervous, for sure. I don’t have a lot of experience, so I have a lot to learn. But Benediktas has experience, and at least on the outside he seems calm, so it makes me more relaxed. I’m quietly excited! The time has come to show that Estonians are fast in all different motorsport disciplines. For sure, in the coming years we’ll see more Estonians on the Dakar.”

Vehículo

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING BALTICS

TOYOTA HILUX
TOYOTA GAZOO RACING BALTICS

  • TOYOTA
  • HILUX
  • -
  • Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics
  • T1+: Prototype Cross-Country Cars 4x4

Clasificación 2023

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