Did you know there are two identical rally championships in Lithuania? Well, almost identical: one is real-life and the other is virtual, designed to match its twin as close as possible. We’re talking about “Atlantis Games e-LARC” whose inaugural event started with a bang, attracting 177 drivers from more than 25 countries.
This year English reviews are presented by “Black and Round” company, supplying acknowledged “Pirelli” tires to rally drivers, including Lithuanian championship, being its mono-tire provider.
First event of virtual Lithuanian championship was a trip to neighboring Poland, where gravel “Rajd Podlaski” was held to match the upcoming real one with number of stages, their configuration as well as overall length.
The very first one of those stages – a rainy super special proved to be tricky even for the fastest drivers. For example, last year’s vice-champion Arūnas Gylys crashed and retired there. Soon he wasn’t alone in his troubles as two fast Finns joined him: Tommi Makinen also crashed in the very next stage, while shakedown winner Joonas Lönn lost a lot of time on the super special.
Poland’s Adrian Sadowski was quickest up until SS4, but unfortunately it didn’t last long as he retired in this longest 20 km stage, which was ran twice and caused a lot of other participants to retire as well. Another Polish driver Jurek Bogdanowicz inherited the lead, however, stages 6 to 8 weren’t in favor of him. Due to distrust of the pace-notes, his teammate Swedish Tobias Hult seized the opportunity and won the event as well as e-LARC-2 classification by 10 seconds. Another 20 seconds behind was another driver from Poland – Pawel Stener.
The most powerful, a.k.a. WRC classification had no less drama. It seemed that Estonian Gabriel Simson has snatched the victory from J. Lönn by 8 seconds only to get 10-second penalty afterwards, so positions switched again. Henri Pellinen from Finland was more than minute behind from the spectacle in third position.
Another Finn – Janne Laahanen dominated e-LARC-3 classification among “Mitsubishis” and “Subarus”, surpassing both Lithuanian Ovidijus Baliulis and his Santtu Aho from Finland by almost 2 minutes.
Front wheel drive classification saw the biggest gap between the leader and the rest of the field. Finland’s Aleksi Paakkinen finished more than 5 minutes in front of Lithuanian Edvinas Meškauskis, while Nikos Tanousis from Greece was third. Meanwhile, in the fifth classification, consisting of extremely popular national classification BMW cars in Lithuanian championship, a local driver – Valdas Džiaugys was the winner, followed by Jan Gorczyca from Poland and Jason Murphy from the USA.
Second round of “Atlantis Games e-LARC” will be held on June 23rd-28th and will be dedicated to “Rally Žemaitija” – a traditional event in northwestern Lithuania.
More information of how to participate and many more can be found on official website: www.e-larc.lt