They celebrated the New Year’s Eve in Lima and only two days later checked in the Dakar Rally headquarters for all the necessary pre-start formalities. On Thursday, Rafal Sonik and Kamil Wisniewski moved their quads to the Parc-Ferme for temporary holding. They will be able to collect them on Saturday, just before the official opening ceremony of the 40th edition of the super marathon. Both competitors assert that the event has begun the moment they received their starting numbers!
“We’ve celebrated the New Year’s Eve in South America for ten years now. This time we had a symbolic glass of champagne on the beach in Lima, watching white and red fireworks lightening up the sky over the dark ocean. The Dakar has taken place in Peru two times so far. This is where we crossed the finished line in 2012 and I took 4th place, and this is where we started in 2013 when I took the 3rd place on the podium. I am very happy to be back here again, I have only good memories from this desert,” shared Rafał Sonik.
During the previous editions, local sand dunes were gracious to the Polish quad rider, which by no means suggests that the race in this area is easy and brings nothing but pleasurable experiences. Along the way, the contestants have to handle fesh fesh, a sticky dust that seriously limits the visibility. Moreover, the sandy stretches are filled with obstacles, the fact that has become quite clear for our team during the test rides.
“There is an abundance of irregular, sandy hills in this area and their location and structure are often impossible to predict. The ground is monochromatic and during noontime, all the shadows and highlights are gone. It makes it very tricky to notice any changes in the terrain and I’ve actually seen pits going even eight meters deep. Doubtless, it’s a very challenging and treacherous desert. It means that it will be much easier to follow someone else’s tracks than be at the forefront of the race,” explains the winner of the 2015 Dakar.
Now that all tests have been passed, it’s time for scrutineering and technical check-ins. “We are on fire!” laughs Kamil Wisniewski half way through the arduous formalities. “Hope we keep that speed during the race as well!”.
The pivotal point of the pre-raid formalities is putting race bracelets on which are kept throughout the entire event and picking up starting numbers. This year, however, another surprise was in store for Rafał Sonik. “I’ve received a “Dakar Legend” card. It’s presented to the contestant who have participated in at least ten Dakar races. Time flies, who’d have thought it was that long! I’ve never anticipated becoming a living legend of this raid”, laughs the famous Cracovian.
Once checking-in process had finished, the Polish duo moved their quads to the Parc Ferme, a secured, temporary holding area, where the vehicles are stored until the beginning of the race. “I’m quite calm. After so many years of racing around these areas, I don’t feel like an explorer anymore. The moon-like landscapes we are facing during the raid mean challenge; an effort to take and a hardship to overcome. It’s still a very thrilling experience but the feeling is much more relaxed than if it was an actual exploration of the “new world”,” says “SuperSonik”, who is looking forward to his anniversary appearance.
“I certainly have to be quite careful since I’ve never ridden on the Peruvian desert before. So far, I’m filled with positive energy, and that thrill of excitement before the great start only gets me all worked up”, admits Kamil Wisniewski with a huge smile.
After the official start in the center of Lima on Saturday, January 6, all competitors are headed south, towards the city of Pisco. This is where the first stage of the endurance raid takes place. The twenty-mile long prologue part will give the participants a foretaste of dunes that wait ahead for the brave Dakar bunch.Tagi: Dakar Rally, Kamil Wiśniewski, Rafał Sonik