Utena and its surroundings have an extremely long and rich rally history. Even today local racers grow up here, who had to, have to and probably will defend the honor of their region against sportsmen from other parts of Lithuania or even from other countries. Local racers – Martynas Samsonas, Marius Vėgėlė, Mantas Kutka and Adomas Kepalas – tell how they feel before the home event “Samsonas Rally Utena” 2023.
For Martynas Samsonas, this time is stressful, to say the least – the organization of two competitions in Lithuania and two races abroad, are pressing on his head. The good news is that a few weeks ago the man from Utena solved a serious question in Elektrėnai, where he became champion of the Lithuanian rally, so at least the pressure on the result will be less. Of course, this does not mean that the red Škoda Fabia N5+ will go slower.
“The roads of the Utena region are already among the most beautiful and hilly in Lithuania and Baltic States.
To race in the homeland would be already something special, responsible and interesting, but to race in the hometown, where we also have to organize one of the biggest automobile sport festivals in Lithuania – I would say extremely difficult. It is a big challenge to keep up with everything, to do everything, and then also to clear your head and prepare well for the rally itself. And after that – to drive smoothly and fast. It takes a lot of time to prepare for the competition even without additional conditions. So preparation time will be minimal, because there is the RaceFit Utena competition ahead, whose preparation takes a lot of time and energy. Next weekend after Utena we have to participate in the Saaremaa Rally in Estonia, so I have to drive fast and clean in Utena. After Saaremaa Rally, I plan to go to Portugal to participate in Rallycross N5 Cup with RMC N5 car. That’s quite a lot things… Nevertheless, the mood before the Utena Rally is really good. Things are going well, everything is underway. We are very, very happy that we got a record number of participants. I’m glad Vladas fixed himself, Giedrius fixed his Škoda Fabia R5. We are glad to have fast guests in 4WD cars. It should be great for both participants and spectators.
My old dream, which I told the organizer A.Petkevičius about more than once – the rally should be conducted in such a way that participants fight for a place to participate in our event, instead of inviting guests and begging them to come, giving any discounts, etc. People have to want to attend our rally themselves, so we try to do it with that idea in mind. Maximum effort to satisfy the participant.”Martynas Samsonas
The situation for M. Vėgėlė was not particularly favorable as the home rally approached – two unfinished rallies mean that he will have to use all his intelligence on his home special stages to maintain the prize positions in the class.
“Driving on the roads of my homeland is like the fulfillment of a small dream for me, because when I was very small and followed the rally “Aukštaitija”, I dreamed of becoming a racer and driving in Utena one day. There is also a big responsibility towards the people of your city, you want to represent your country and show who is the boss here. So the mood is very ambivalent – you want to relax as much as possible and forget about the two rallies in a row that you did not finish. I do not want to think that far ahead now, because you can not plan at all in a rally, but I want one thing badly – the long-awaited finish.”Marius Vėgėlė
Mr. Kutka has recently become famous for the fact that he usually does not release the accelerator pedal he stepped on at the start until he reaches the finish line. It’s true that sometimes the young man’s technique can not withstand such a pace, but this year could be the year when M. Kutka finally becomes the class champion after all the successes and failures.
“On this event there is a chance to meet more familiar faces, fans who maybe do not visit the other events of the LARČ that often.” Their support along the stages is an added incentive to push the pedal harder, and the aura of the race itself is much more fun. The fact that the race is held on home soil does not make it any easier when it comes to stages. Last year’s route was not very well known. We hope that will be the case this year as well. This year’s final stage of the LARČ in Utena is eagerly awaited. This is where it will be decided whether we will finally become class champions after six years of racing, a series of failures and good sections. So far we have not managed to win this title, and since we go to every competition to win, it would be great fun to do it with Utena. So we would give Utena another championship title in the 2023 season, because M.Samsonas managed to become absolute LARČ champion this year. By the way, also for the first time.”Mantas Kutka
Adomas’ debut in the Lithuanian Rally Championship did not go well after the change of car, but in Utena, he has a great chance to redeem himself in front of his spectators and reach the finish line.
“The most anticipated rally for our crew, Samsonas Rally Utena, is coming. It is expected because it is held in our hometown, but we will find out on September 30 and October 1 if it will be easier to race in our roads. The co-driver and I are both really looking forward to this season because there have been a lot of new things for us. This is the first time we have raced a BMW, the first time we have raced a rear-wheel drive car, and it is the first season in the LARČ. After the last two rallies we did not finish, we would like to finish without any technical failures. Let us hope that the walls of our homeland will help us and the atmosphere will be great as always.”Adomas Kepalas