Over eight hours of racing, boiling heat, and extremely difficult navigation. These were the conditions, in which Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski recorded their best results in this year’s Dakar Rally to date. The more experienced quad rider had 5th time, while his partner was the 8th competitor to arrive at the finish line. Both Poles have went up in the general classification considerably.
Nothing was easy and pleasurable during the tenth stage. Suffice it to say that the perceptible temperature significantly exceeded 50 degrees Celsius, and the riders had to struggle through the most unpleasant of terrain types – sandy waves, thickly overgrown, with multiple fesh-fesh sections. These conditions forced many bikers out of the race, including leaders (like Pablo Quintanilla or Stefan Svitko, who was taken to hospital), and bike riders.
‘This stage had a difficult navigation. It took us over two hours to complete the first 50 km because of this,’ said Kamil Wiśniewski.
‘This was one of the truly Dakar-style stages, which proved who has prepared well for the challenge. We felt as if we were driving in a dry sauna. I saw many bikers, who stopped in the shadows, exhausted, and the fans poured water on them. A cooling vehicle was waiting for us at the finish line, and the medic team brought us in there immediately. We were all overheating, but for me, the longer and the hotter the day is, the more pleasurable it is. I slept only two hours, I drove 17 hours, and I’m finally happy,’ commented Sonik.
The 2015 Dakar Rally winner had all the reason to feel happy. He recorded 5th time at the finish line and went up to the sixth position in the general classification. The racing veteran did not hide his admiration to his colleague, Dakar Rally’s first-timer. ‘Kamil lived through his first Dakar and did it with style. He completed 450 km of a special stage in extremely difficult conditions, recording a great result, even though he had experienced a tumble before the second part of the special stage. He drove behind most cars and the best trucks, so he had to deal both with the pain and the damaged quad and the sticky, run down terrain, covered with a net of thick ruts.
‘I was completely exhausted,’ stated Wiśniewski, who not only is currently on the 10th place in the general classification, but he is also the leader in the 4×4 quad category. ‘I didn’t deal with the heat in the first part of the race too well, and today, I also had to deal with complicated navigation and difficult terrain. During my tumble, I damaged by navigation panel and for the entire second part of this section I had to scroll manually. I’m fine, and even though I’ll be black and blue all over, I can’t stop thinking about the finish line. This is what I came here to do,’ he assured.
Several blood-curling situations took place during this stage. Stephane Peterhansel, the most award-winning and experienced rider broke a leg of a Slovenian biker, when Stephane hit him with his Peugeot, because he entered the dry riverbed from the wrong side. The same almost happened to Rafał Sonik. ‘Suddenly, I saw a Peugeot drive out of a corner straight towards me. I think it was Sebastien Loeb, though I didn’t notice the number. We managed to avoid the head-on collission at the last moment. We were both looking for the right way and none of us was where we were supposed to be. I also saw Peterhansel help the affected participant. He showed us where we were to go, because, like him, we got lost.
On Friday, the one but last stage will take place, and it will be the last one that is so demanding. The route from San Juan to Rio Cuarto is 754 km in total, with 288 km of a special stage. The organizers promise a 50 km section of dunes, followed by quite a large section straight from WRC rallies. This is where the duel for the leadership in all categories will be held.
Results of the tenth stage
1. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) 06:52.43
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL) +10.46
3. Santiago Hansen (ARG) + 1:26.26
4. Pablo Copetti (ARG) + 1:29.08
5. Rafał Sonik (POL) +1:32.27
8. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +2:07:39
1. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) 34:38.33
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL) +21.05
3. Axel Dutrie (FRA) +3:06.51
4. Pablo Copetti (ARG) +3:34.21
5. Santiago Hansen (ARG) +4:13.43
6. Rafał Sonik (POL) +5:09.12
10. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) + 7:12:26