URVO MÄNNAMA(est) 1.85m / 97kg
“The dream is to finish the car in the top 20”
After their historic first participation last year sadly ended with a retirement, Urvo Männama and Risto Lepik return for their second tilt at the Dakar with plenty of drive and determination. The two Estonian cousins are both huge motorsport fans who have been competing together since the mid-2000s. A few years ago, after discovering rally-raid, Urvo decided to set up a team to tackle the sport's toughest event, getting a vehicle and plenty of advice from Lithuanian neighbour (and Dakar regular) Benediktas Vanagas. Branding themselves as Rally Raid Estonia, Urvo and Risto teamed up with former bikers Toomas Triisa and Mart Meeru and became the first Estonians to do the Dakar in the cars and SSVs respectively. However, while Toomas and Mart managed to bring their Can-Am Maverick home in 11th place in the T4s, Urvo and Risto were forced to withdraw from the cars on Stage 11 after breaking their gearbox on a dune. Nevertheless, they relished the experience and enjoyed some solid outings at Dakar 2023, coming as high as 17th on Stage 8. For Dakar 2024, they have decided to switch from a Toyota Hilux to a Century Racing CR7, in which they hope to secure a top-20 finish. Urvo had an up-and-down 2023 season, finishing second behind Krzysztof Holowczyc at Rally Greece Offroad, then coming down with illness at Baja Aragon, and finally securing 16th spot in a Century CR6 at the prestigious Rallye du Maroc. The 35-year-old is making no secret of his lofty ambitions, and plans to put Estonia firmly on the rally-raid map by impressing at the Dakar.
U.M.: “As you'd expect, Dakar 2023 was amazing! We had big ambitions, we wanted to be the best rookies in the cars. But on the second day we had a major technical issue and lost too much time. Still, we had several top-20 stage times, which was very good considering we were underpowered compared to the turbo cars. It gave us a good glimpse of what Dakar is about. It was extremely unfortunate that we couldn't finish. A combination of many small things meant we finished the race on top of a dune, and it was quite an adventure to get out of there! We were helicoptered out after spending the night in the race car. Then we had to arrange a rescue mission, which involved finding the car and getting the mechanics out there. We basically had to replace the gearbox on top of the dune, then drive the car back at night. It was a crazy adventure, but we had no bad feelings or negativity about it.”
“We have to kind of balance the speed. At heart, everyone's a racer and wants to get as good a stage result as possible. The dream is to finish the car in the top 20. We'll actually have a new car for Dakar 2024. We're taking a bit of a gamble, moving from Toyota to Century Racing. It's the latest model, the CR7, with four-wheel drive and turbo engine. All the signs suggest it'll be extremely fast and nice, but it’s a very new product and hasn't been tested, so that’s obviously a risk. Our relationship with Risto is like a well-oiled machine. We don't talk too much in the car, but it's a nice atmosphere. We've known each other for most of our lives."
R. L.: “I’ve been involved in motorsport since I was a child and I’ve gone to watch various competitions. The first time I competed in an offroad rally was with Urvo in maybe 2004 or 2005? Our first experience of the Dakar was very impressive. I was very surprised by how such a big competition could be so well organised. All the organisers and competitors were also very friendly and helpful. The stages were very well prepared and had scenic views, I really liked them. In the big picture, we did quite well for the first time at Dakar 2023. There were good days and bad days. I'm very excited and looking forward to Dakar 2024. The first goal is to finish the rally and it would be ideal to get a top 20."
Rally Raid Estonia
RALLY RAID ESTONIA
- Marque CENTURY
- Modèle CR7-T
- Préparateur Rally Raid Estonia
- Assistance Rally Raid Estonia
- Classe T1+ : Voitures Tout-terrain Prototypes 4x4
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