Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski have been collaborating in quad racing for two years now. They entered the last year’s Dakar Rally as one team. Mutual collaboration and support during the race allowed them to cross the finish line with the fourth and tenth result, respectively. During the 40th anniversary edition of the super marathon, the Polish duo plan to show their best.
The winner of the 2015 Dakar, who had also taken other podiums before, realizes that the Polish fans of off-road rallies have great expectations but, as always, prefers to play them down.
“The 40th edition of the Dakar will also be my personal anniversary. It will mark my 10th attendance in the race. Obviously, it’s a moment in time when most sportsmen are inclined to recap their careers. Mine comes up to 36 World Cup rallies, and 7 races completed in South America. Such rich experiences teach you to always stay humble, so I’m not going to set off with a declaration to win. I am fully aware how unpredictable and fickle the fate of the Dakar rider can be. Rest assured, I will do my best to take podium though”, announces Rafał Sonik.
Kamil Wiśniewski has a similar plan to be among the first three finishers of the race, especially since he won the unofficial general classification last year. “Daniel Mazzucco and I fought a fierce fight during the last race while he was the one with great experience and the knowledge of the terrain. When his quad broke down, I was way ahead of my other rivals. So, I’m expecting a similarly intense and relentless competition this time as well. I would like to make it to the top ten in the overall quad classification.”
The organizers of the 40th Dakar edition surely want all the participants to feel the spirit of the rally full force. The race starts in Peru and will take the contestants through the sand dunes along the Pacific coast. Next, the cavalcade of racers will pass by Lake Titicaca and enter Bolivia, where struggling with altitude sickness provides even more challenges.
In order to prepare for competing in such extreme conditions, both Polish quad riders decided to train in a hypoxic chamber and sleep in altitude tents. “Having known what we would have to deal with, I extended my prep time from two to six months. I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m planning to be in a top notch form by the 6th of January. I also practiced riding on sand dunes in Morocco, and even though my quad is generally too heavy to ride in the loose sand, I’m very satisfied with my progress there”, assures Wiśniewski.
Apart from physical training, Rafał Sonik is yet to go through the most important part of his preparations. “On Sunday, December 10th, I’m headed to Dubai. Several days of racing in the sands of Dubai will be crucial to assess the first few days of the Dakar Rally. I expect the Peruvian riders to have a head start since they know the desert as well as I know the road from Cracow to Zakopane”, the Polish champion concludes with a smile.
“The Peruvians will most likely get ahead of the rest of us during the first few days, but before long, all the seasoned Dakar competitors are bound to catch up. There is a record number of 50 quad riders that have signed up for the rally. Twenty of them are potential winners, so the race will be tight. The best of the best have confirmed their attendance so we are looking at two weeks of a tough, yet tactical battle”, explains “SuperSonik”.
It seems that the second stage of the race will be decisive. A one-day break in La Paz is planned on Friday, January 12th, but as soon as Saturday, the marathon part begins. The participants are supposed to cover over 1000 kilometers without a possibility of any technical assistance on the way. Shortly after, the situation repeats and the racers will be on their own while venturing through the hot sands of Fiambala, the region famous for extremely high temperatures reaching even 50C.
“Marc Coma, who is responsible for planning the route, makes sure that the Dakar remains the most difficult off-road rally in the world. Two marathon stages in the second part of the rally tend to reduce the number of participants and overturn the whole classification. And it happens only two days before the end of the race. So certainly, emotions will be high”, sums up Sonik.
After two weeks of off-road trainings, Rafał Sonik has left for South America on December 29th. Together with Kamil Wiśniewski, they welcomed the New Year in Lima and picked up their quads from the port. Scrutineering and technical checks are planned for the 4th and 5th of January, and on the 6th, the team heads to Lima for the 30-kilometer prologue part. The race will conclude on the January 20th in Cordoba, Argentina.Tagi: Kamil Wiśniewski, Rafał Sonik, Rajd Dakar