Palanga 1000 km: Lithuania's Highway Endurance Race

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Aeriel View The Palanga Highway Circuit with Fuel Stop Pitlane
On the highways of one of Lithuania's most beautiful towns, the Palanga 1000km race is a lesser-known endurance race with a lot of individuality. The best part: It is available for free as a mod for Assetto Corsa.

You are not alone if you have never heard of the 1000km endurance race of Palanga. This niche and lesser-known event occurs in Palanga, one of Lithuania's beach towns. The track is a temporary setup using across multiple highway lanes and a flyover. The best part of the event: They use an everyday fuel station to refuel the race cars during the event!

The track utilizes the carriageways of the A13 and A11 highways. The temporary circuit's famous tight hairpin is based around the maintenance road between the two roads. Complete with a Suzuka-style crossover, the circuit has a wide range of features which, considering the restrictions of creativity, is an incredible achievement.

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Palanga, 2014 - Present. Image: RacingCircuits.info

The circuit has only seen two iterations since its inception in the year 2000. The original layout extended the exit ramp further past the second tyre chicane and the pitlane did not bend around onto the off-ramp. It instead joined halfway through the final high-speed chicane. I think you can see why that was changed.

Lithuania's Motorsport Heritage​

When you think of successful countries in international motorsport, you might think of Germany, Italy, Brazil or the United Kingdom. Not Lithuania. One of three Baltic States in Eastern Europe, Lithuania has a deep and rich history. The country is also car and motorsport mad, despite only having one permanent circuit in the entire country, Nemuno Žiedas or the Nemunas Ring.

The tracks are few and far between, but the passion is always there. The Palanga 1000km race is always heavily followed, supported and spectated. Despite public roads being closed, the event is always met with a warm reception.


The drivers that take part in the event are mostly Lithuanian, however, in past runnings of the event there has been a scattering of international entries. The classes that run at the event might surprise you. Modern GT3 and GT4 machinery alongside TCR touring cars are normally the level of competition you can expect to be hurtling up and down the Lithuanian roads.

The level of machinery that has taken to the road is incredibly rich. Everything from modern GT3 and touring cars to the iconic Spyker C8 and even a fairly roadgoing-looking Audi RS4 have won the event.

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Audi RS4, 2002 Palanga Winner. Image Credit: Racing.lt - Rezultatai

The most successful driver in the event's history is former Porsche Carrera GB driver, Jonas Gelžinis. With six wins to his credit, Gellžinis is the event's benchmark. His wins have come in a wide variety of machinery including everything from the aforementioned Spyker to Porsche Cup cars and a Ferrari Challenge car.

The Unique Nature Of Palanga​

What makes this race even more special is the use of a normal petrol station to refuel the cars during the race. This means queues at a petrol station... With GT3 and thoroughbred racing machinery! The pumps remain the same, the nozzles are the same. The cars are refuelled as you would with your Honda Civic.

Other endurance racing venues refuel cars from 'Pumps', but this race is famous for using an actual petrol station to do this as opposed to just a pump in the pitlane of a permanent circuit like at the Nürburgring. With this fuel station being separate from the main pitlane, this short 1.6-mile-long track has two pitlanes.

Skip to 5:05 to see the fuel station in action!

Palanga In Assetto Corsa​

Now you are back from your rabbit hole of research into this incredible event, I have even more good news... The track is available right here on OverTake.gg for free for Assetto Corsa. Mod creator GvidZ uploaded the circuit mod for Palanga at the end of May this year.

This version of the circuit has been scanned in using Lidar data and, although some of the bumps change year from year, the angles of the corners and circuit layout are as accurate as you could want.

At the time of writing, AI does work, but does tend to crash... a lot. So, you can run a race with AI, but be prepared for a lot of retirements. They especially love to crash at the hairpin and the tyre chicanes. The creator is aware of this and AI fixes are in the pipeline for future updates.

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Palanga Race Circuit In Assetto Corsa

In preparation for this piece, I drove twenty laps of the track in three very different classes of cars to get a feeling for how the track performed. First of all, the base vanilla GT3 cars (BMW Z4 And AMG GT3) in Assetto Corsa perform very well. They feel very wide on Palanga's narrow slip roads, especially when going side by side. Overtaking is only really possible on the straight unless you trust your opponent to not run you into the wall.

The next car I tried was the Radical SR3. These were fantastic fun and a great combination in my opinion. The power is enough to keep you entertained for the length of the track and they are small enough that you can think about overtaking into some of the corners.

And finally, I drove the Volvo S40 Supertouring car. This beast was lively and difficult to control without locking up on the road surface. The track is certainly a handful behind the wheel of the S40, but I think it was the most engaging and entertaining of the three cars to drive on this circuit.

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Pitlane Exit (Left) Fuel Stop Entry (First Right). Image Credit: GvidZ

What do you think about the Palaga circuit? Have you heard of it before? Let us know over on X @OverTake_gg or down in the comments below!
About author
Connor Minniss
Website Content Editor & Motorsport Photographer aiming to bring you the best of the best within the world of sim racing.

Comments

Nice surprise. Looks rather accurate on first glance. I guess my version can go to retirement, never publicly released or developed up to high level anyway.

People, try it. It is surprisingly great fun with all sorts of cars.
 
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Watching the onboards gave me Euro Truck simulator vibes...

I think that track might be fun in Minis or Aussie Racing Cars with their low powered engines... Not for open wheelers... And those tyre stack chicanes look like the most painful part of the circuit... Take them out and it'd be a cracker...
 
Warping.
No less.
Empty for words.
This is what simracing can do.

How could I miss this one?
It's been plus 20 years ago I read a magazine about this temporary race track in the making/ideas. Then forgot everything about it.

Even though I remember to have had stray thoughts when starting to simrace Nemuno Žiedas in early rF1 version, before the AC version.

As a life long track hunter I'm both deeply embarrassed to have forgotten and highly overwhelmed to be reminded.

Thanks.
 
Thank you @Connor Minniss for the article. I had no idea that event and track even existed. The part about how they refuel is hilarious, you would see that in a movie and shake your head at how unrealistic it would appear.
I am a big fan of real but ignored tracks, this will add to my huge AC track collection and be explored in VR. Thank you @GvidZ for your passion and for sharing the joy with us.
 
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There is also an rFactor 2 version, but it has a gamebreaking bug (cars fall through the ground), which makes it unusable.
 

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