Neither Rafał Sonik nor Paweł Otwinowski finished the first stage of the Morocco Rally. Sonik’s Yamaha Raptor got hit by another quad which damaged the control arm bolt in the front right wheel, preventing the machine from continuing the race. Our less experienced Polish competitor broke his wrist in an accident. Good news is that, after accepting the time penalty, Sonik rejoins the race on Saturday to keep fighting for the FIM World Cup podium.
“The first part of today’s special stage was only 99 km, so I had been wondering what surprises were in store for us”, reported Rafał Sonik, “It all started with a failure of the navigational equipment. A part of it was faulty but since the equipment is provided by the organizers, their technician fixed it just before the start, not without serious time pressure. After barely 8 kilometers, I bumped into Paweł Otwinowski, who fell into a ravine, crashed into the counter slope and broke his wrist.”
The 6-time FIM World Cup winner knew exactly how to handle that sort of situation. He called for a medical helicopter which transferred his colleague to hospital. “The ravine was not marked with three exclamation marks in the roadbook and the bikers were able to jump over it with ease. Quads are a different story. Paweł’s injury is serious. He will surely need surgery in Poland and won’t be back on the road before spring”, commented Sonik.
Unfortunately, it seemed like the day had been jinxed for Sonik. While approaching the 44-kilometer waypoint, his quad was hit by another quad competing in the Enduro Cup classification. “The oblivious driver came from the side, crashing right into my front wheels. Initially, I thought I didn’t cause any serious damage but after 40 more kilometers, the control arm bolt in my front right wheel gave up, exactly where it had been hit”, reported Sonik, not without anger.
Sonik tried to fix the damage by fastening all broken pieces with zip ties but the kludge failed after 300 meters. “Sadly, this is one of the failures that you cannot fix by yourself during a special stage, al least not without special tools. I think my tech team can handle it though, and I will be able to continue the race. Nevertheless, I must brace myself for a time penalty for not completing the stage”, admitted the Polish quad driver.
“I’m just glad it’s October and not high summer. I would roast in this desert”, Sonik laughed while reporting through a satellite phone, still waiting for assistance to come.