Benediktas Vanagas is set to participate in the 21st HunGarian Baja

From August 8-10, after the anniversary celebration, Hungary’s most prestigious cross-country rally, the HunGarian Baja will take place for the 21st time in Várpalota. Among the outstanding field, the Lithuanian racing legend Benediktas Vanagas will tackle the Hungarian terrain with his Toyota Hilux, nicknamed „Black Hawk”.

„What I like about the HunGarian Baja is its terrain, as well as the competition and the people who organize and participate in this event.” – said the driver.

Benediktas Vanagas, with 12 Dakar Rally and over 25 years of motorsport experience, is the most successful rally driver in the Baltic region and Lithuania. He has crossed the finish line in all but one of the desert races, and in 2024, he finished in 8th place overall, achieving the 3rd best time in stage 10.

„Dakar is an ultramarathon. There „chickens are counted” after 12 days of racing. Here in Bajas you have to be bullet fast as it is basically one and half days to the finish.” – highlighted Benediktas Vanagas the biggest difference.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics driver is returning to Hungary for the third time and knows exactly what it takes to win. In 2022, he celebrated on the top step of the podium, leading the race from start to finish. The Lithuanian driver has only encountered the HunGarian Baja tracks in dry conditions, but he would be happy to tackle the race in slippery, wet terrain as well.

„Actually, I have only faced the HunGarian Baja in dry conditions. When it’s dry, it’s hard with good grip, from what I’ve seen, when it’s wet, it’s the opposite: extremely slippery. But I like those conditions as well, and what does it take to achieve victory? You just need to be quicker than your rivals. Easy!” – added Benediktas Vanagas jokingly.

In 2023 at the Hungarian race, Benediktas Vanagas faced unfortunate circumstances, with his chase ending during the prologue, even before the first stage. „Last year, we finished the race on the prologue. We had a puncture about 5 km from the finish of the stage and we took a risk to drive on the flat tire. But that was the wrong decision as the damage was too big to fix in the 30-minute service. So, we had to retire right at the beginning last year.” – said the driver.

He is heading into the 21st HunGarian Baja with his co-driver, Kuldar Sikk. Since they haven’t reached the podium in this year’s European Cup races, they are preparing to turn that around here. At the Italian Baja before the Hungarian event, the Toyota couldn’t cope with the riverbed, leading to an early end for the duo. They are arriving in Hungary with a new engine, and as long as they don’t encounter a large river crossing, the wet sections shouldn’t pose a problem for the “Black Hawk”.

“Our original plan was different. We know how fast we are and how to achieve results, but unfortunately, water issues have cost us two engines so far. In the Baja events, you can’t make mistakes, and you have to be lightning-fast. That’s exactly our goal in Hungary. How we manage to implement this strategy, I’ll be able to tell you after the race on Saturday night.” – said Benediktas Vanagas.

Source: Hungarian Baja