After the Rally Lazdijai, the crews and their teams had a month to prepare and travel to Kelmė, where the second stage of the Lithuanian rally championship took place. Part of the N5 gang also passed through Zarasai, where they honed their skills and tested cars. When the day of the rally came, 8 cars of the N5 gang passed through the start/finish arch in Kelmė – 2 N5+ and 6 regular N5, although the difference between them has become much smaller this year. Everyone was waiting for the continuation of the battles that had started in Lazdijai, which basically split into three groups. However, the Rally Žemaitija offered a slightly different scenario.

So far so good – two wins in LARČ5 class

On Friday evening, 49 kilometers of stages awaited the participants, divided into four gravel and one half-gravel, half-asphalt city stage. Irmantas Buivydas and his brother Edvinas shot to the front in the very first kilometers and took fifth place overall in their Ford Fiesta N5. With several extremely fast racers coming to Žemaitija, the battles were extremely intense. The speed and the peculiarity of the roads west of Kelmė meant that the slightest mistake or doubt at the corner cost the competitors many seconds. The trio consisting of Giedrius Firantas, Deividas Gezevičius, and Linas Vaškys, who had some distance from Irmantas, fought for those fractions of a second. Deividas finished the fourth stage with a flat tire, which led to time losses. This trio was fighting for a place in the absolute top ten of the rally, which, as already mentioned, was simply packed with extremely fast drivers.

Another great and confident finish from Linas with a good result

Another four-way battle took place a bit further – Aurimas Eidžiūnas was chasing Paulius Beniušis, Eugenijus Sladkevičius was trying to get used to Gedimins Saudargas sitting next to him in this rally, and Tomas Šmagarys was happy that the Hyundai i20 N5 was running perfectly again after the Lazdijai incident. Friday ended on a bit of a downer, as the Ford Fiesta N5 of Aurimas Eidžiūnas, who was driving a little too fast on a right-hand corner, rolled several times. The crew remained OK, but the same could not be said of the car.

Paulius’ statistics this season are extremely encouraging

Another 63 kilometers and six special stages awaited on Saturday. They would provide drama. Giedrius Firantas and Deividas Gezevičius were already out of the fight for the LARČ5 podium on Saturday morning – both laid down their weapons due to problems in the seventh special stage. After their main rivals had retired, Irmantas Buivydas was still able to achieve a decent result, but the young crew hardly let themselves get rattled and held on to the fifth place in the overall standings that they had achieved on Friday. Although this place was in danger as Irmantas was being chased by his former N5 classmate, the status quo of the positions remained after the cancelation of the last stage.

Eugenijus did not feel confident in this rally, but the finish guaranteed points

The usual battle between Linas Vaškys and Eugenijus Sladkevičius and their Škoda Fabia N5+ did not take place, as it seems that these special stages suit Linas much better than Eugenijus. Of course, it did not help that Eugenijus had to drive without his usual co-driver. As a result, Linas finished in an excellent seventh place overall, winning LARČ1, while Eugenijus was satisfied with 11th place overall. Paulius Beniušis finished the rally one place better than Eugenijus – for thenPaulius, this season is like the opposite of the last one. In a good way, of course. Paulius finished second in the LARČ5 class, and third place went to Tomas Šmagarys, for whom the end of the rally was a little nervous – the service took longer than allowed, he received a penalty and it was uncertain whether he would be able to finish the rally. In the end, everything had a happy ending and we saw Tomas on the last step of the podium.

This must have been a sweet finish for Tomas

Now we have another month to prepare for the third event of the Lithuanian Rally Championship, which will take place in Mažeikiai. This time rally promises new, technical special stages near Telšiai, so it will bring interesting wind in the fight for seconds.

This time the pace was there, but Deividas was short on luck
A great fight with Deividas on Friday, unfortunately, ended as soon as Saturday started, for both of them
The pace of Aurimas has accelerated dramatically, but unfortunately, with that comes consequences

Irmantas BuivydasEdvinas BuivydasFord Fiesta N57Bet Racing by RALLY4FUNLARČ553:57.4751
Linas VaškysLaurynas PaškevičiusŠkoda Fabia N5+ORLEN Lietuva-Mažeikių ASKLARČ155:18.5271
Paulius BeniušisKristupas AdinavičiusCitroen C3 N5ABEPA ST-SPORTLARČ556:17.64102
Eugenijus SladkevičiusMarius KairysŠkoda Fabia N5+Samsonas MotorsportLARČ156:39.65112
Tomas ŠmagarysValdas ČiuplysHyundai i20 N5AUTORALIS ASKLARČ558:10.35173
Deividas GezevičiusTomas NenartavičiusFord Fiesta N5Nordis racing teamLARČ5DNF
Giedrius FirantasMatas ValiulisVW Polo N5AutoralisLARČ5DNF
Aurimas EidžiūnasUgnius VainevičiusFord Fiesta N57Bet RacingLARČ5DNF