Before the start of the second stage of the Dakar Rally, Rafał Sonik was sure of one thing: he would have to overtake riders all day long. In the mud, or in the dust, and back again. And he did so… almost 50 times! After his fall on the first day of the rally, he began his climb up the ranking list, going up by seven positions.
The special stage, 275 km long, was a mosaic of different terrains. The route alternated between ponds of muddy water, mud that tried to suck vehicles in, and well-trodden, dry roads with the dust stirred by the riders. Like last year, these sections were as if taken straight from WRC rallies, where you can drive really fast.
Rafał Sonik definitely prefers the winding, technical stages in the mountains, but as he’s wont to say – “he’s not cracking up at the job”. And his result clearly proves it. Bikes and quads alternate at the start line, according to the results from the previous day. Rafał Sonik was the 141th competitor to begin the race, and he arrived at approx. 92. position according to time. In his class, his result was the 16th, which showed that this is only the beginning of the race for him. The stage was won by Pablo Copetti, who also became the new leader.
‘The best possible scenario came to be. I knew that I’d have many slower bikers and quad riders ahead of me, and that I’d lose several dozen or so precious minutes. The challenge was to make sure that there are as few of them as possible. And I did it! I went up in the ranking by several positions, and my plan remains the same for the upcoming days,’ promised Sonik. From the yesterday’s 25th position in the general classification, he climbed up to the 18th position.
He arrived at the bivouac covered with mud and tired, but in great spirits. Even the heatwave and the aching bruise on his leg did not stop him from joking about the oddities of the day. ‘At the gas stop, the temperature was 48 degrees Celsius. Just in case, I turned on all engine fans, and when the mud covered my thermometer, I didn’t clean it up, so that I wouldn’t get anxious,’ laughed the six-times winner of the World Cup.
Kamil Wiśniewski also reached the finish line. The colleagues had met at the gas point, which “SuperSonik” left a few minutes earlier. The younger member of the duo lost a little time in the second part of the stage due to minor technical problems and is currently on the 25th position.
On Wednesday, the Dakar column awaits 364 km of a special stage in the mountains in the north of Argentina. The first truly off-road sections will appear at the route from San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy. The riders will have to deal with high temperatures, and the column will surely spread over a greater distance between the start and the finish lines. ‘I’m certainly glad that I’ll have fewer rivals ahead of me. Step by step, we are working through our plan and we are climbing up. The true challenge awaits us only in Bolivia,’ concluded Sonik.
Results of the second stage
1. Pablo Copetti (ARG) 3:14.29
2. Nelson Sanabria (PAR) + 1.59
3. Axel Dutrie (FRA) + 5.31
16. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 25.19
26. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) + 1:03.37
1. Pablo Copetti (ARG) 03:49.06
2. Nelson Sanabria (PAR) + 1.54
3. Marcelo Medeiros (BRA) + 4.20
18. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 30.20
25. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) + 1:05.10