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Gravel Fest Rally – a rally idea that was born in a moment

   In 2019, a strange entry appeared in the calendar of the Lithuanian Mini Rally Championship, which, as I often thought then, appeared by mistake. The long-term organizer of the stage of this series – the team “Marimotors racing” has stated that from 2019. The traditional rally “Rally Alytus” changes its name to “Gravel Fest Rally” and it will take place exclusively on gravel speed sections. Until then, the concept of the Mini Rally was different and lasted for almost 15 years: most of the C League races were held on asphalt, in larger or smaller slalom courts, on closed streets. The news that one of the six stages of the season completely “descends” from the asphalt – for some it turned out to be absurd, others accepted it with joy, and the organizers put it under a magnifying glass: no one knew what to expect, did not know how the Mini Rally crews would innovate or stop the rally not yet halfway due to accidents on the track…

   As time has shown, one step of “Marimotors racing” has changed the face of the Mini Rally Championship in just a few years. A few steps were enough (2019 “GFR” took place in the vicinity of Punia town; 2020 rally took place in Lazdijai region) and from 2021 all Lithuanian organizers started organizing competitions of this series only on gravel, athletes started to prepare especially for gravel. It cannot be ruled out that the Gravel Fest Rally is a competition that has given a new tone and additional stimulus to the growth of the number of participants in other, higher Lithuanian rally leagues. More and more Mini Rally crews have started to install rollbars in their cars and are gradually turning to the Rally Sprint Championship, and from there, the Lithuanian Rally Championship A League is already within reach.

   In 2019, the Gravel Fest Rally took place in the small town of Punia in southern Lithuania, and a year later the race moved to the unique Lazdijai region, famous for its forests and lakes. It is likely that the rally will last longer here: rural tourism in Lazdijai district is well developed, there are enough “twisted” roads for rally competitions, the idea was well received and supported by the district municipality. From 2021, Lazdijai and Lazdijai district became the official rally city and region, so the name of the competition was added. From 2021 The stage is called “Gravel Fest Rally – Lazdijai”.
Gravel Fest Rally organizers: R. Rutkauskas & T. Zdanavičius

In 2021, almost 120 crews from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland started the rally, and the world rally team from Ukraine arrived with Mini WRC cars. The organizers expect a similar number of participants in this year’s rally, so the fans of the rally should not be short of impressions!

   2021 For the first time, the biggest motorsport TV channel – was broadcast live from Lithuania. During the peak, the rally was watched as much as 2.4 million viewers all over the world!

    2022 “Gravel Fest Rally – Lazdijai” is not only a rally sprint or mini rally, but also a candidate for the Lithuanian Car Rally Championship. This means that the race is gradually approaching the highest status and it is likely that the rally race of the highest caliber will start in Lazdijai region within a few years.