Molecular beam epitaxy Ga-assisted synthesis of GaAs nanowires is demonstrated. The nucleation and growth are seen to be related to the presence of a SiO2 layer previously deposited on the GaAs wafer. The interaction of the reactive gallium with the SiO2 pinholes induces the formation of nanocraters, found to be the key for the nucleation of the nanowires. With SiO2 thicknesses up to 30 nm, nanocraters reach the underlying substrate, resulting into a preferential growth orientation of the nanowires. Possibly related to the formation of nanocraters, we observe an incubation period of 258 s before the nanowires growth is initiated.