Rafał Sonik had the third time during the prologue to this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which begins the race for the FIM World Cup. His greatest rival, Ignacio Casale, was the fastest, yet a lot points to the fact that the Polish participant is in a better situation before the first day on the desert.
‘I drove calmly in the prologue, because I wasn’t sure whether I manage to get into the top 15 that may choose their starting positions, as the motorcycle participants are very strong. I missed by seven seconds – I planned to complete the route in three minutes. And I did. Plus seven seconds,’ laughed Sonik after the Saturday’s warm-up.
The fans that observed the prologue could be surprised that the defender of the World Cup title clearly does not put his foot down. He had his plan, and the “Old Man” is famous for his perseverance in following through with his tactics in the world of rallies. ‘The starting positions are just like I wanted them to be. Ignacio is starting as the 10th participant, I’m 22nd. I can’t predict how the race will go, but the starting position is very good. In theory, I should be up by two, maybe three positions before the bike riders catch up with me. The best of the best are positioned at the very end. If I manage to stay with them for a while, I should catch up with the Chilean and I won’t allow him to escape,’ promised Sonik.
Ignacio Casale’s choice is quite surprising. Sonik conceded that had his rival, with his eight result after the prologue, chosen to be eighth before the last participant, it would be much more difficult to avoid losing time. ‘From this we can gather that he feels confident here. According to the rules of the rally, I’m in a better position, but who knows, perhaps he’ll be the king of this desert? Like Sebastian Husseini did in his time – as long as he didn’t experience any equipment failures or didn’t have any accidents, he was unrivalled. Also, we’ve never compared what Yamaha and Honda are capable of, head to head. We have a very interesting day ahead of us,’ concluded Sonik.
On Sunday, the participants will drive into the desert. 278 km of a special stage is waiting for them. It will be the first out of five stages that will decide on the results of the first round of the World Cup series.
Results of the prologue
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 2.03
2. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) 2.20
3. Rafał Sonik (POL) 3.07