The Dakar Rally is heralded as one of the most grueling motorsports events. For its 40th running, this year's route covers nearly 9,000 km and passes through 3 different countries in South America. Mindaugas Plukys is just one of many competitors who will be tackling the challenging rally together with his Nissan Navara.

It has been Mindaugas' dream to compete in the Dakar Rally. His entry to the event took him five years of planning before managing to go on his dream adventure.

"There is something about the Dakar Rally which has always inspired me, and this adventure has been five years in the planning. I always said I'd do it before my 40th birthday, so getting to South America in January 2018 has been my goal," said Mindaugas.

Mindaugas lives in Vilnius, Lithuania and works for Nissan as part of the communications team in the Baltic region. He is truly making sure he personally experiences the 'tough and smart' vehicle he is communicating.

His companion for the journey would be a 2017 Nissan Navara that has been fitted with aftermarket components. The upgrades were made to ensure his vehicle would be able to survive the 9,000 km journey with multiple off-road stages. It still uses the factory 2.3-liter YS23 turbodiesel engine which outputs 160 PS with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Modifications made to the Navara include a 4cm lift via an Old Man Emu suspension system. To improve durabilty, a Rival underbody protection system has been fitted to the near-stock pickup truck. Lighting has been improved by using two large light bars. The 18-inch wheels are now covered in Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx tires to improve grip on various terrains.

Nissan PR man drives Navara in Dakar Rally before he turns 40

Accompanying the Nissan PR man for the event will be photographer Andrius Laucius. The two along with the Navara should already be running in the Dakar Rally, which started on January 6.