Another month has passed and we will all gather again for the rally feast that will crown the end of the first half of the Lithuanian Rally Championship. Somewhat unusually, the Orlen Lietuva Rally has become the third event on the calendar, but that’s not the only change. If you think back to the first year of this rally in LARČ, you can remember that this event, like all the others, has its own uniqueness – flat terrain and probably the least number of corners per kilometer. It may have looked boring, but this event was excellent training for braking points and clean corner exits. It is also the second year that the center of the rally has been moved from Viekšniai to Mažeikiai. Well, this year is unique as the geography of the rally special stages will change a little. Part of the rally route will head southwest, towards Telšiai, where apparently much more interesting roads than usual can be expected at this rally. These roads will be new for everyone, so the joint work of the crew will be a little more recognizable, which may add extra excitement to the results.

Irmantas and Edvinas have made a great start to the season – 2 wins out of 2

So let us start with the three fastest N5 competitors. When the official news appeared that Irmantas Buivydas had bought a Ford Fiesta N5, many shrugged their shoulders as to whether such a move was premature. To the surprise of many, Irmantas silenced these talks with Edvinas even before the LARČ started. The Ford Fiesta N5, improved by the Finnish Dogbox team and later by the Lithuanian GSR Motorsport team, is fast and reliable in Irmantas’ hands and currently leads the LARČ5 standings. However, not only Irmantas but also two other crews can drive at the same pace. Deividas Gezevičius showed partially identical times in the special stages with his Ford Fiesta N5 in Žemaitija, so if the Nordis team member will be finally lucky in Mažeikiai, an uncompromising battle awaits him. Another N5 newcomer – Giedrius Firantas with his VW Polo N5 – is taking part in this battle. The pace of Giedrius and Matas shows that the potential is great, but the crew just has to get to grips with the new car. The experience of this trio in Orlen Lietuva rallies is also interesting – G. Firantas has started here three times, D. Gezevičius – twice, and I. Buivydas only once.

Deividas season hasn’t started as well as the crew would have liked. The good news is that there are still two-thirds of the season left.

Giedrius is already very fast, you just have to get to grips with the car

In the LARČ1 classification, two Škoda Fabia N5+ compete against each other. This year, things are going better for the crew of Linas Vaškys and Laurynas Paškevičius. The Vapsvos Racing duo not only took two first places in the LARČ1 classification but also finished 7th and 8th overall in Lazdijai and Kelmė. And here there was a small change – Linas and Laurynas will be seen in Mažeikiai with another car that we know very well – Darius Biesevičius’ Ford Fiesta N5. Linas is being chased by Eugenijus Sladkevičius, who is driving extremely fast and extravagantly, but several factors are preventing him from overtaking Linas. One of them is the temporary replacement of the co-driver. Marius Kairys is currently taking care of his health and will not be able to sit in the co-drivers chair for some time, which is currently occupied by Gediminas Saudargas. Although Gediminas Saudargas has enormous experience, it will of course take time for the crew to work together fully and be able to drive at top speed.

Linas Vaškys took both victories in the LARČ1 battle and will show up in Mažeikiai with a different N5 car

As E. Sladkevičius’ permanent co-driver M. Kairys is recovering his health, Gediminas Saudargas will take his place in Mažeikiai.

Unfortunately, there are changes in the other trio that make it a lot of fun to fight with each other. The crew of Aurimas Eidžiūnas and Ugnius Vainevičius had an accident on the first day of the Žemaitija Rally, in which their Ford Fiesta N5 rolled several times. The crew was uninjured, but the car was badly damaged. So at least we will not see this crew again in Mažeikiai, and the team is currently solving a puzzle regarding their plans for this season. This decision is a bit more complicated, as the all-new N5 car is being manufactured in the garage of 8000 RPM Motorsport. Without Aurimas, that leaves the duel between Paulius Beniušis and Tomas Šmagarys, whose participants will not only fight each other but also try to get closer to the previously mentioned LARČ5 leaders.

This orange Citroen C3 N5 and its crew are very happy this season

Tomas and Valdas had two very different events

8.Irmantas BuivydasEdvinas BuivydasFord Fiesta N57Bet Racing by RALLY4FUNLARČ5
12.Deividas GezevičiusTomas NenartavičiusFord Fiesta N5Nordis racing teamLARČ1
14.Giedrius FirantasMatas ValiulisVW Polo N5AutoralisLARČ5
15.Linas VaškysLaurynas PaškevičiusFord Fiesta N5ORLEN Lietuva-Mažeikių ASKLARČ1
12.Paulius BeniušisKristupas AdinavičiusCitroen C3 N5ABEPA ST-SPORTLARČ1
18.Eugenijus SladkevičiusGediminas SaudargasŠkoda Fabia N5+Samsonas MotorsportLARČ5
25.Tomas ŠmagarysValdas ČiuplysHyundai i20 N5AUTORALIS ASKLARČ5