The third stage of the 40th edition of the Dakar Rally proved to be exceptionally exhausting and, in case of Rafał Sonik, also quite frustrating. “It was like I was driving a Fiat 126p. Quite pleasant indeed but without much-needed power. I could have just swept through some parts of the route but that wasn’t an option with a weak engine,” commented the Polish quad rider who still managed to move up a spot in the overall standings despite the difficulties. The third stage was another victory for the Chilean racer, Ignacio Casale.
On Monday, the contestants of the South American “Oddysey” had to cover 300 kilometers of a special stage which carried them through the sand dunes similar to the ones they had already faced before. Just like on Sunday, the level of difficulty was particularly high. One of the previous Dakar champions, Nani Roma rolled his car, and the vehicle of Argentinian driver, Alicia Reina, burned after catching fire. Polish quad racers didn’t have it easy either but made it to the finish line, avoiding dangerous situations.
“I’ve never had such a weak engine before,” admitted Rafał Sonik while fueling up, “Even when I was flooring the accelerator, the quad seemed to rebel and wouldn’t gain enough momentum. My rivals could easily get ahead of me on the flat stretches because I just wasn’t able to hit the necessary speed. The maximum I got today was 122km/h.”
“Something is obviously off, because my gears have been slipping, which means transmission or engine problems, and it needs to be fixed today. I hope it will make it until the end of the rally,” added the Cracovian who ended up in the 8th place and moved up in the general standings to the 6th position.
By the end of the stage, however, the technical difficulties proved to be “useful”. “I call it a blessing in disguise. In a long valley, where racers usually put the pedal to the metal (that is if the vehicle allows), I heard the beep of my warning system. Soon I got to a 10-meter high ridge from which Gaston Gonzalez, an experienced motorbike and quad rider, fell straight down. A helicopter was checking on him and it didn’t look good, but he managed to complete the stage. You really have to be extremely careful here.”
Kamil Wiśniewski finished 7th and moved up in the general standings to the 23rd place. “The first part of the route took us through dry river beds with huge rocks and I saw several motorbikes and quads stuck among them. It was really dusty and hot, but I consider this stage to be a success because I got to improve my general standing again,” he summed up.
On Tuesday, the Dakar participants will race on another loop, this time by the town of San Juan de Marcona. The special stage, that starts on the beach, will be even longer than the previous ones, extending for 330 kilometers. Motorcycles and quads will start in groups of 15, and cars in sets of 4, driving literally side by side in the first few kilometers. Next comes a 100-kilometer stretch of sand dunes, one of the longest in the Dakar history. Navigation won’t be easy either since the organizers have already announced that finding the last gully of the 4th SS will most likely be a difficult task. We are looking at another day of rivalry, unexpected turns of events, and rearranging the standings.
Stage III results
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 3:58.08
2. Alexis Hernandez (PER) + 8.55
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) + 14.52
4. Marcelo Medeiros (BRA) +14.59
5. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) +17.43
6. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) +18.44
7. Givani Enrico (CHL) +20.19
8. Rafał Sonik (POL) +20.30
9. Siergiej Karjakin (RUS) +24.30
10. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) +29.30
17. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +36.58
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 8:03.25
2. Siergiej Karjakin (RUS) +26.13
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) + 26.43
4. Alexis Hernandez (PER) + 28.13
5. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) +36.58
6. Rafał Sonik (POL) +39.20
7. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) +40.24
8. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) +44.41
9. Gaston Gonzalez (ARG) +50.40
10. Axel Dutrie (FRA) +1:18.12
23. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +3:14.06