The Dakar prologue pushed Vaidotas Žala to the bottom of the list, Rokas Baciuška was the fastest in the buggy class

Although the prologue consists of only 13 kilometers, which the racers will have to cover at a sporty pace on this day, the Dakar participants agree that the importance of this day is no less because of that, because the start times of the first speed section are determined based on the prologue times. It is very important for the participants that when the first day dawns, when they will have to cover 367 kilometers in the speedway, they will not only start next to their equal rivals, but also not drag themselves to the back, where they will have to fight with dust. Even before the start, the racer emphasized this Played by Zala.

“The day will not be very difficult, but because of that, the responsibility is no less. In order not to have to drag behind slower competitors on the long second day, we have to overcome this speed section at the right pace”, said V. Žala about the challenges of the first day of the competition.

7 o’clock 8 minutes Laisvydas Kancius who started, according to preliminary data, covered the track in 32 seconds. slower than Frenchman Alexandre Giroud, who completed the course the fastest, who completed the prologue stage in 8 minutes. 50 sec. Based on these results, L. Kancius, who started in 9th place, rose to 8th position.

The Lithuanian planned to finish in the top ten, but did not want to be among the first. The prologue went exactly according to plan – L. Kancius lost half a minute to the winner of the speed section in the four-wheel classification and finished in the eighth position.

“The result perfectly meets my expectations. I don’t want to open the track tomorrow, but I want to be with the strongest group – that’s what happened. I think my position for tomorrow’s start is very good,” said the Story Racing team member after the finish.

The ATVs were the first to start the prologue of the Dakar today, so the course was very slippery and treacherous. In many places it was possible to go wrong.

“I don’t like this track. Today, at least for us first timers, it was very slippery. And such an unpleasant speed section. Although on the one hand it was a classic rally and that is to my advantage, on the other hand, it was not pleasant to drive. It’s brutally slippery, turn after turn, there will be nowhere to accelerate,” said L. Kancius.

Other Lithuanians are also preparing

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After the four-wheelers passed the prologue, the other teams also prepared for the start. Vaidotas Žala and Paulos Fiuza started the earliest from Lithuanians in the car classification – at 10:12 a.m. Lithuanian time. Benediktas Vanagas and Kuldar Sikk crossed the start shortly after them – at 10 am. 25 minutes and 30 sec. Ginto Petraus and Jose Marques start time – 10.45 am.

Dakar 2023 route

© Photo of the organizers.

For the buggy qualifying, the sart was given after the cars, so Rokas Baciuška with co-driver Oriol Vidal entered the prologue speedway at 12 o’clock. 34 min. and 30 sec. Lithuanian time. For Tomas Jančius and Irmantas Bražiūnas, the scheduled start time is 13:00. 1 min. and 30 sec.

The Lithuanian team “Constra Racing”, starting in the truck class, started at the prologue at the latest – 2:00 p.m. 10 minutes and 30 sec.

Car registration

Vaidotas Žala and Benediktas Vanagas also won the prologue. According to preliminary data, B. Vanagis and K. Sikk managed to overcome the prologue in just 32 seconds. slower than the fastest team of Mattias Ekstrom and Emil Bergkvist with Audi, which secures them 16th place.

“Our main goal was to get a decent starting position for tomorrow, as they say, you won’t win the Dakar during the prologue, but you can lose.” The prologue itself passed with laser precision: safely and confidently, the plan was fulfilled one hundred percent”, B. Vanagas shared his impressions.

It is interesting that the racers familiar with the prologue track even before the start said that the track is more like a classic rally rather than a rally marathon. The road surface is dominated by gravel and sand. The route has a lot of sharp turns, which can partially resemble a go-kart track.

“It was a bit scary when we had a slower rider ahead of us in the starting order. Fortunately, the road was not very dusty, and in 13 kilometers we almost caught up with her. If there had been more dust, it would not have been possible”, B. Vanagas shared his insights about the prologue.

Problems after starting

Vaidotas Žala was more behind, 5 minutes separates him from the first place. 43 sec. Antanas Juknevičius, watching the Dakar from the sidelines, noticed V. Žala’s crew stopped in the speedway. A. Juknevičius said that the team had to stop several times due to the problems encountered. The team reportedly had to change a wheel on the car.

After the sprint, V. Žala himself commented on the situation.

“Very interesting start. First right turn – left rear tire minus, we removed it, next left turn – right. The pressure was obviously too low. Dakar is just beginning”, wrote V. Žala.

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Gintas Petrus beat the prologue by 1 min. 39 sec. slower than the fastest crew and finished 45th.

“The 13 km long prologue was successfully completed. Preliminarily 56.
While driving, the temperature of the oil rose to 135 degrees, which was a bit distracting, so we drove more calmly in the second part. But after the finish, the head of MD Rallye Sport reassured me that such a temperature is normal, we will not stop again”, wrote G. Petrus.

A Lithuanian is leading in the buggy standings

Rokas Baciuška, who received the highest starting number 400, proved that he received it for a reason. The Lithuanian competing in the T4 buggy class with co-driver Oriol Vidal Montijano overcame the speed section of the prologue fastest – in 9 minutes. and 6 sec.

“The prologue speed section was covered in 9:06 minutes, we are the winners today. The real trials of the Dakar begin tomorrow, so your support will be greatly needed. Enjoy the last day of the year and enter the new year joyfully – THANK YOU for being together”, wrote R. Baciuška.

According to preliminary data, the crew of T. Jančis and I. Bražiūnas finished 1 minute behind R. Baciuška. 21 sec. The team is provisionally in 20th place.

“One minute before the start, the car’s engine overheated, a message appeared on the screen that we have a fan error. We started looking for solutions to the problem. We turned off the engine just before the start, started and drove away. As we expected – the track of the classic rally was dug up, and we drove conservatively, so as not to create nonsense, because you could see it there and the track was driven off more than once, I drove as much as I could see the track and as much as I trusted that braking path, but anyway, tomorrow starts the real Dakar. Happy New Year”, said Tomas Jančys, driver of the Mediafon team, after the prologue.

According to the racer, the prologue track was more favorable for drivers with more classic rally experience, this is what led to an interesting spectacle for the spectators, they could watch the racers’ disappointing mistakes, such as exits from the track, turns, U-turns

“The prologue was boring, very smooth, I didn’t have much to navigate, but at the same time, many potholes were smoothed out, we passed as planned, conservatively and safely”, concluded Irmantas Bražiūnas, the team’s navigator.

Truck registration

The only team of Vaidotas Paškevičius, Tomás Gužauskas and Slavomir Volkovs competing in the truck classification confidently reached the finish line. The Lithuanians were 48 seconds behind the Czech team, which won the prologue the fastest in the truck classification, and as a result, the team ranks 13th.

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Prologue details

Saturday at 7 o’clock In Lithuanian time, the start of the participants of the motorcyclists and quadricycles has started. Immediately after them – at 8:45 a.m. Lithuanian time, the start was given to the participants of the car event, after which the teams competing with buggies stand at the start, and the day will finally be completed by the start of the participants of the truck event.

Dakar organizers have shared a video of the prologue sprint. Here is the track that awaited the Dakar participants on Saturday morning:

Each participant will also appear on the Dakar podium on Saturday. The performances of the participants are broadcast live here.

Dakar organizers shared images from a helicopter. The name of the first point of the Dakar, Sea Camp, reflects the images that surround the prologue speedway.

After the first qualifying kilometers, the participants stay at the “Sea Camp” campsite, from where the second part of the first speed section awaits on Sunday – 602 kilometers, of which 367 are qualifying kilometers. According to the organizers of the Dakar race, speed is to be expected in the first: sand, dunes, rocky road sections and some gravel road. The winner of the race will be announced on January 15.

What awaits the 2023 Dakar?

820 participants have registered for the 2023 Dakar, of which 188 are competing in the classic Dakar. 125 riders, 19 ATVs, 73 cars, 56 trucks, 47 T3 class buggies and 46 T4 class buggies, 76 classic Dakar cars and 13 classic rally trucks are competing in this Dakar. The largest number of participants came to Dakar from France – 194 participants, followed by Spain with 119 participants, and the third most popular country – the Netherlands with 90 participants. In 14 days, the participants will have to cover a total of 8,528 kilometers, of which 4,604 km will be speed sections.

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