The second – and the longest – stage of this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was difficult for all participants. ‘During one of the stages of the last Dakar, riders just fell down at the finish line, with their bikes, and before they went off to the bivouac, they had to spend some time in cooling vehicles. It was similar today. I was completely exhausted as I reached the finish line, but I’m also very satisfied,’ said Rafał Sonik, whose second time today gave him the leading position in the competition in the UAE.
Driving through almost 290 km in the temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius, along a technically difficult and sandy terrain – that was quite a challenge. Among the dunes, where there is no wind and nothing can cool you down, the heat pouring down from the sky becomes even more troublesome. Moreover, bikers and quad riders started the stage in groups, and when you fight arm in arm, nobody wants to let it go.
‘After about 70 kilometres we caught up with Kamil, who went off seven minutes before us, and we continued together. 90 kilometres later Kees Koolen joined us. He started seven minutes later, but he had a nice, wide trace to follow, which made it easier for him to catch up with us. He also has an incredibly fast quad with him in UAE, at straight sections he went far ahead, but I caught up with him – and took him over – among the dunes. It’s a pity that yesterday’s failure deprived him from any chances to fight for the win, because our today’s duel was incredibly interesting,’ commented Sonik.
Sonik and Koolen went head to head on the lead and each of them did their best to leave his rival behind. 40 kilometres before the finish line, only Sonik and Koolen were left from the group composed of Sonik, Koolen, Wiśniewski, and Stasiaczek. Sonik was the first one to reach the finish line, but his rival started the stage later and had a better result, so he won the stage.
‘This fight cost us both a lot, but none of us let go. I thought as I’m number 111, and Tadek Błażusiak never gave up, not even in most hopeless situations, I can’t throw in the towel. When I reached the finish line, I was exhausted. I had cramps in my shoulders, arms, and legs – I couldn’t straighten them out. I’d rather not know my pulse, this was extreme,’ said Rafał, who became the new leader.
The second place in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge ranking list went to Kamil Wiśniewski, who was even worse for wear after the Monday’s fight. ‘Kamil just went to lie down in an air-conditioned car after reaching the finish line. He was exhausted. I must say that he’s very brave and it’s hard to break him,’ added Sonik.
On Tuesday, the riders will face another difficult day. Tomorrow’s special stage will be only shorted by one kilometre and will be also filled by dunes. The exhaustion will certainly take its toll…
Results of the second stage: