Arūnas Gelažninkas is well known in the Lithuanian motorcycle community – he is a multiple champion of Motocross and Enduro.
From year to year, he sailed on the road, thinking that it would be interesting to ever experience the strength on the Dakar Rally – this is the dream of all enduro riders. However, he did not take concrete steps until last year, until one friend asked: “Is this the desire to go to Dakar?”
For a long time A. Gelazhninkas answered “yes” and began preparations: participation in additional competitions, navigation tasks, financial collections and many other nuances.
As the following tasks were completed, after the end of the Lithuanian Motor Sports Championship, A. Gelažninkas was asked by the project team # iGo2Dakar.
– How did you decide that it's time to start Dakar?
“The idea started pushing my friends, not me.” Thanks to Dakar rally car drivers began to gain popularity, and everyone asked me when I would start driving. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t take any action. Later I started to ride Enduro, and the dream of every endurist, Dakar, is the tip of this sport. A year ago, with my friend Andrei, we sat down, talked and asked if I wanted to go to Dakar. I really wanted to experience something new, so I said yes. He started talking to help find sponsors and so on. To qualify for the Dakar, you need to take part in several major enduro tournaments. Therefore, we re-registered in the spring and held the Merzouga Rally in Morocco. I felt that I was going to go to the unknown – only a couple of times I sat on a motorcycle in the winter, but everything went well and I won the right to go to Dakar.
– What is the feeling of riding in such a race?
– I looked at the lists of participants in the previous year, and it became clear that I would not be at the rally – there are a lot of strong athletes in Dakar who held high places. However, the fastest achievements are possible. When, a few weeks before the rally, the organizers sent out a list of participants, I was surprised – there was a whole cream of Dakar. However, this did not scare, because they are the same people – sooner or later they will have to ride with them. It was even very useful, because we saw how they work, how teams work. I saw motocross in the race as factory teams, but at the rally I'm new, I take the first steps as we progress. When I talked to several athletes, I learned something new.
– How did you do this?
“The Merzouga Rally was designed for this — we wanted to see how to navigate how the dunes look, how the motorcycle reacts to it.” The first few days were something like this – I realized that the road book wants to show and what signs, but it is much more difficult to recognize them while driving. Three stones the size of stones in the road book are marked as large stones and understand them the way you want. At first I trusted other rivals, watched them and did not feel that I had learned something. Balkan off-road rally was more useful. For many days I was the fastest, and I started the first, so I had to navigate. In the first days I made mistakes, I always tried to hurry somewhere, but then it got better. I think that the overall result is not bad – now I am ready much better than spring.
– Some participants do not go forward because it is easier to follow other tracks. Did you do it?
– Rally Merzouga proved it, especially in sandstone. However, the tracks are not always correct – sometimes you go and see that you have already missed a couple of points, then you need to turn around and look for them yourself. This is not just trust. At the Balkan rally there were almost no traces of stones, dust, traces.
– More guides?
– Yes. Most of the roads were in the fields and in the mountains. The roads were not closed because there were no movements, but sometimes we met cars, therefore there were different situations. Locals lived there for a while. In the first year in Dakar, you will not be a leader, so you don’t need to think about spending something first.
– So, the first year – just looking around?
– The level of Dakar is very high – all former champions of enduro, motocross and other branches gathered here. In the first year it is impossible to show a high score – I have no such experience, I participated in only a few rallies. My goal is not only to get through, but also to get a better place, but I will not shoot above the tug.
– This year are held trainings?
– This year I will not have competitions. It remains less than a month before the delivery of the motorcycle, during which it is necessary to fully prepare it, check it somewhere in place. Navigation skills cannot be further improved.
– Which motorcycle do you start with?
“I’m still going with my KTM training bike and I’ll show you the Dakar rally soon.”