The Peruvian desert doesn’t spare anyone, including the race favorites and seasoned competitors. Rafał Sonik felt its merciless character on Wednesday, when his quad plunged off a sand dune, leaving him with a broken leg. The Polish rider managed to finish the stage with the 10th position, however, a quick checkup at the bivouac emergency room indicated broken shinbone and fibula. A medical air transport has taken him to the hospital in Lima.
The 5th SS carried the racers through the hardest sections of the previous day’s stretch, but this time in the opposite direction. The starting set was short of Sam Sunderland, the last year’s winner in the class of motorcycles, who had crashed his bike and hurt his spine. After merely 44 kilometers of the middle stretch of SS, the desert eliminated a former winner of the Bedouin statuette in the class of quads, Siergiej Karjakin, who fell and broke his wrist. At the end of the stretch, fate also turned against Rafał Sonik.
At first, the Polish contestant was blazing with the excellent third time, then moved to the fifth position losing only few minutes to the winner of the stage, an Argentinian rookie, Nicholas Cavigliasso. “Everything felt really good. I was moving forward carefully but keeping a good tempo, even tough I was having problems with the transmission and gears kept slipping,” reported Sonik.
“After the neutralization section, we reached a 58-kilometer stretch of the SS which had been already greatly affected by cars and trucks,” continued Sonik. “The sand by waypoints was extremely loose and boggy. I geared down to climb the dune but then noticed a 2-meter pit ahead. I pushed on gas to be able to pass it, but the gear slipped again… and my quad fell down. With no drive, it just sank in the sand. I didn’t fall or roll but the impact hit my left knee hard. The same knee I had previously hurt during the Sardinia Rally.”
The pain forced Sonik to slow down during the last 30 kilometers of the fifth SS. He fought against a serious condition that wouldn’t allow him to balance properly or stand while riding. The long transfer road to Arequipa wasn’t any easier, and 470 kilometers later, the Polish quad rider went straight to the bivouac emergency room for an assessment. After an X-ray examination confirmed that both shinbone and fibula had been broken, the brave Cracovian was lifted to Lima by a medical air transport.
The second Polish quad rider, Kamil Wiśniewski, is still in the rally. He was 11th to finish the stage and moved up in the general standings to the 21st position.
Stage 5 results
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) 4:12.47
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL) +1.23
3. Alexis Hernandez (PER) + 6.35
4. Giovani Enrico (CHL) +12.55
5. Marcelo Medeiros (BRA) +14.08
6. Pablo Copetti (ARG) +20.00
7. Kees Koolen (NLD) +21.04
8. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) +23.04
9. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) +30.38
10. Rafał Sonik (POL) +36.07
11. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +50.20
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 17:14.52
2. Alexis Hernandez (PER) +40.13
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) +58.37
4. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) +1:09.26
5. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) +1:13.31
6. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) +1:15.34
7. Rafał Sonik (POL) +1:35.53
8. Kees Koolen (NLD) +2:42.37
9. Simon Vitse (FRA) +2:43.38
10. Axel Dutrie (FRA) +2:49.37
21. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +6:38.07