Rafał Sonik had second time today at the third special stage of the Atacama Rally in Chile. The Polish participant has strengthened his position as the vice leader of the rally. ‘I was very happy to see the finish line, because what we have been through today, was a true survival of the fittest. Even Paulo Goncalves, a true navigation master, lost 20 minutes,’ reported the quad rider.
As the leader and defender of the World Cup title, Rafał Sonik, explained, the distances for the stages of the Atacama Rally were calculated using “Google Earth”. It means that the special stage has 236 km, but on the assumption that it covers a flat terrain. As the riders drive through hills and valleys, the distance is getting longer, and therefore they have to re-calibrate their navigation systems once in a while.
‘The organizers warned us about this, but the trick is that we don’t know how we should re-calibrate our devices at a given place. Sometimes the differences at the check-points were as high as two kilometres! It makes navigation very difficult and turns it into true art, or you might even say – into magic,’ commented Rafał Sonik.
As it turned out, this clash between the roadbook and the reality had also other, serious consequences. ‘I drove the last 150 km while saving every drop of fuel. At one point I figured out that I use too much gas and that I might not reach the finish line. As opposed to local, experienced participants, I left the fuel stop with 45 litres of fuel in my tank. 5 litres short. They topped up their tanks, and they reached the finish line without any problems. I did, too, but this is why Mauro Aleida got stuck in the desert,’ said SuperSonik.
Despite the many difficulties and the exhausting stage, Sonik kept his good mood. ‘I make only minor mistakes and my quad is working perfectly well, so I have nothing to be unhappy about. Also, for the first time I’m not overheating at Atacama, sometimes it’s even quite cool. It feels like bathing in warm Baltic Sea,’ laughs Rafał.
The Friday’s route planned by the organizers is 270 km long, which means that the participants will have about 300 km to cover. It will be the next to last day of the rally, probably the deciding one.
PKN ORLEN supports Rafał Sonik’s participation in the rally.
Results of the second stage:
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 03:32.08
2. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 15.04
3. Mauro Almeida (URY) + 15:37.53
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 07:21.09
2. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 16.42
3. Mauro Almeida (URY) + 16:31.56