The most brutal off-road racing event across the globe – the Dakar Rally – will once again gather the fastest car, motorbike and quad drivers from across the globe in January 2019. The 41st edition is full of novelties – from track specifics to new rules, rookie competitors and hosting countries. However, the organizers are not the only ones making changes – last year’s TOP-15 team CRAFT bearings Dakar Rally Team meets the challenge with a new force – faster car, new aim and surprise advantage up their sleeve.
Last year, the team, led by an official Dakar legend Antanas Juknevicius and navigated by Darius Vaiciulis, shined at one of the most brutal challenges the Dakar has ever offered and reached another record for the Baltic states in the car category – 12th place overall. However, 2019 will be a brand new story.
“Finally, we have a car with independent suspension in the back – this will help us tremendously in the rocky sections, as well as stages set similarly to WRC rally stages. The new car has completed only few races and has as little as 1500 km on its clock, meaning most of the components are very fresh. Despite of that, our technical team has conducted a thorough check-up and full rebuild before leaving the racecar in Le Havre to be shipped to South America,” explains Antanas Juknevicius.
And new car is not the only change in the team’s technical fleet. As some may remember, CRAFT bearings Dakar Rally Team has become one of the first ever to receive Eco-Label certificate from the rally organizers – a document showing the dedication of the team towards a sustainable environment. This has resulted in global coverage of team’s decision to add solar panels on the roof of the service truck. This year, the team has equipped the support truck with even more efficient, state-of-the-art solar modules, which are estimated to generate 100% of electricity necessary to perform service tasks.
“The culture of moving forward is encrypted into the backbone of this team as we all see the fast progress Antanas and Darius are making. Not only on track, but off-track as well – the ECO initiatives, as well as all of the extra attention from the organization of the Dakar Rally benefits us all – it allows us to showcase our products in the harshest conditions out there, while Antanas continues to gain his notoriety as the mister Dakar of the Baltics,” comments Vygantas Rimgaila, CEO of one of the most progressive manufacturers of comprehensive range of industrial and automotive bearings globally. “This year’s result was amazing – 12th place amongst the major teams was truly an achievement to be proud of, however, it is in our mentality to continue pushing further. Understanding the strengths of Antanas, next year we have even more advantages, it is now our job to use them.”
Advantages Vygantas is talking about is the terrain that the 2019 Dakar Rally edition is offering. For the first time in 41 years, the whole competition will occur in a single country – Peru. This country can offer variety of stages for the competitors, however, it is mostly known for its massive dunes and sand massifs. Sand driving is one of the major strengths of Antanas, having spent almost every summer in the UAE running a sand driving academy for tourists and racing drivers.
As team’s navigator Darius Vaiciulis explains – open terrain, such as dune sections, offer the team a chance to gain massively, however, there’s also a chance to lose a lot of time as well. “We all know that this is our strength, nevertheless, the navigation in these stages is brutal and getting it right is crucial to the result. We have done the math from 2018 edition and we know that we have over 2 hours that we can write off our result if we keep away from mistakes. So this will be the main aim of 2019 – keep level-headed and avoid any issues.”
The 2019 Dakar rally will be held in Peru from the 6th to 17th of January. Competitors will have to cover over 5000 km, with 70% of all terrain consisting of sand and dunes. The race will start and finish in the capital Lima. CRAFT bearings Dakar Rally team already holds 2 records by competitors from the Baltic States. In Dakar Rally 2017 Antanas Juknevicius and Darius Vaiciulis crossed the finish line in 21st position overall, while 2018 gave us an impressive 12th place finish.
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