As some of you might already know, the past year or so I’ve spent in some ways managing a drifter named Gediminas Ivanauskas. He is known by another name - Ivanule. This guy is probably one of the most ambitious and crazy blokes I’ve ever met. He’ll go out of his ways just to make the competition thousands miles away from home. He will put a mad show out there and come home on Monday the next week to sit at his desk and works his ass out just so he could get to another event couple weeks after. I’ve sat together with Gediminas to get his story about the past 2018 season out. Enjoy this wee story about a guy who sacrifices everything to do something he really love.
“Drifting is more than just a sport – it’s a way of life. I look at drifting as self-realisation; I live for it and it is incredibly important to me. The people in the drifting community are my brothers and sisters. Moments of sadness and anger are replaced by the joy of victory, but the most important thing is STRIVING FOR YOUR GOAL. Accidents and car repair delays are part of a process that is difficult to avoid, but without which victory wouldn’t be so sweet. Before the start of the 2018 season, we launched the Ivanule Drift brand collection. It started with stickers, followed by t-shirts, sweatshirts and phone stickers. The work was systematic, with the idea of creating and promoting a drift collection so that people could buy branded t-shirts and stickers. I think it was a success. In Belarus, the phrase держи кардан, братан (“hold the drive shaft, bro”) is big. With this project being successful, we’re planning on offering Christmas versions of some of the t-shirts in December.
The 2018 season began at the winter drift in Ukraine. The winter drift in Ukraine is a competition held in a closed lot in the centre of the city that pulls in up to 60 participants per stage! Drivers come from Belarus and Russia. A Lada (VAZ-2106 Zhiguli) was built for this competition series in 24 hours in the NoMotors team garage. With this car, it was a completely different drifting experience. After starting the season like this, we competed in four stages and took 7th place in the overall standings. Now the Zhiguli just has to wait for the 2019 winter season.
In the run-up to the summer season, it was decided not to buy another car, but to upgrade the existing car instead. The engine was rebuilt, the suspension was updated with Partshop MAX shock absorbers, and the biggest upgrade of the season was a Samsonas sequential gearbox. The car lost a lot of weight by replacing body parts with plastic ones, and swapping the glass windows with acrylic. The engine cooling was moved to the rear, which dramatically changed the centre of gravity and handling. The car became lighter, faster and sharper. However, these modifications took longer than expected and we only had the car ready in the middle of the season. We had to use a practice car for the first stages.
The initial plan for the season was to compete in all stages of the PRO League in Belarus and Lithuania, and if possible – in Russia (the RDS is a different story with the border) and in the Ukrainian league, UDF. We managed to spend some time in Poland at the stage organised by the DMP near Warsaw.
The first stage of the Lithuanian drift championship took place in Latvia. I went with a practice car that had about 400 hp. The lack of power was definitely felt, because the Bikernieki track, where the entry speed is 160 km/h, requires a lot more horsepower. I qualified in 8th place and got paired with Harold Valdma. I’ll remember that session for a long time, because I was on Valdma’s door right from initiation because I knew that if I let off the gas I’d be through.
The UDF stage organised by Maksim Miller in Kiev (Ukraine) was very memorable – the trip with our mechanic Marius and photographer Andrius was one of the most fun yet. The freshly-assembled car (it came off the lift at 1 am) went straight to Ukraine. The car was new and untested, but somehow worked. Losing a belt shortened practice, but it didn’t prevent us from qualifying in 7th out of 47 drivers. After some strong tandem passes, I came in 6th place.
The highlight of the season was the 1006 km race in Palanga. I was 3rd in qualifying, but the tandem pass with Robertas Lisovskis had a sad ending. I hit a barrier, which couldn’t handle the blow and came apart, and as a result I flew off the track. It was only by a stroke of luck that I didn’t hit the nearby guard rail.
Unfortunately, the race was cancelled because of my accident. We were really bummed – the car was badly damaged and my plans to propose to my girlfriend at the competition in Belarus the next day were up in the air. That crucial moment when I needed the support of the Side to Side team, I was left alone. But I didn’t give up – I called the NoMotors team from Ukraine and asked for help putting together a backup car so that I could participate in the competition being held in Lahoysk (Belarus) the very next day. It was there, during the race parade, that I proposed to my girlfriend, who said YES. The disaster in Palanga showed me who my true friends are, who really want to help out; I didn’t expect that kind of behaviour from the Side to Side team and realised that there was no point in trusting that team.
The new car that had just been put together after the accident was pretty capricious and didn’t want to function properly during the competition – there were problems with the fuel system and the gearbox sensor, and trouble with the wastegate prevented me from driving at full power. As the season drew to a close, I was finally able to show results when I took 3rd place at the Lithuanian PRO League stage (Battle of the Brothers). My first PRO League podium was like new motivation to achieve something further. The next race at the new track in Raǔbičy (Belarus) showed that the drivers can be the same on the new track. Qualification went well and I took 2nd place, with the other Gediminas taking 1st. It was really cool that the two Gediminases took the first two places. I finished that competition in 6th place.
Season summary: only competed in PRO League competitions, tried new tracks, met a lot of interesting people. 6th place in the overall season standings in the Lithuanian PRO League and 7th place in Belarus. This is not a stellar achievement, but I gave it 110 per cent. I am deeply grateful to the people who were with me and who believed in me and helped. I hope that next year I’ll manage to give it an even better shot and move a few steps up, and that the equipment won’t be as capricious.”
That’s the end of Gediminas story this year, all I wish for this guy is just a little bit more luck next season, because, oh boy, he has a talent