Four wins out of six rallies. Rafał Sonik confirmed that it is very hard to keep up with him on the Qatar desert. On the last day, Alexis Hernandez was slightly faster, but had it not been for the Polish rider, the Peruvian would have a lot of trouble with reaching the finish line. Most importantly, after not so great beginning of the season in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Rafał Sonik climbed the top of the general classification of the World Cup.
‘It was tough yesterday. The line that I walked to stay in the race was so fine that it was practically invisible. The front suspension held together by the skin of its teeth, but I still had that tiny spark of hope. This spark borne fruit today, giving me the second place in this stage and the win in the entire rally. I won four times and I came up second twice. I simply can’t believe that I did it, after yesterday’s troubles,’ said Sonik at the finish line, clearly emotional.
The emotions run high – winning this rally meant becoming the leader in the World Cup. ‘Here, it’s extremely hard to run away from your rivals. When you follow other rivals’ traces, it’s much easier to navigate the key, most difficult places. This is how I raced here for years with Mohamed Abu-Issa. Seconds count at the finish line, and a failure or a flat tire can be the tipping point. I had serious troubles this year, so the points I gained here are priceless,’ added “SuperSonik”.
The last day was quite typical, but still, we were in for an adventure anyway. Alexis Hernandez, who set off three minutes after Rafał Sonik, caught up with him 90 kilometres in. After that, they drove together, but at some point they started to wander around, trying to find the right way. ‘My Peruvian colleague lost his patience at some point and just drove ahead. I stopped, I started to shout and waved my arms to make him turn back. I led him, and we found the right way,’ laughed Sonik.
That was not the end, however. Less than two kilometres before the finish line, something snapped in the exhaust pipe of Sonik’s Yamaha. At the finish line, it turned out that there is a hole the size of a fist in there. ‘Hernandez had even more troubles. When he turned off his quad at the finish line, he couldn’t get it working again. I had to tow him before he managed to turn on the engine and drive to the bivouac. Had the engine died on him on route, he wouldn’t have reached the finish line,’ commented Rafał, the new leader and defender of the World Cup title.
After the Qatar Rally, the riders are in for three months of rest. The next stop in the series in the Atacama Rally in Chile in August, followed by Desafio Ruta 40 soon after it. In the meantime, Rafał Sonik will not be the one to lie down and rest. In June, he will participate in the 10th edition of the Sardegna Rally. ‘This is my favourite rally and I was simply angry when I learned that it’s no longer a part of the FIM World Cup calendar. This is why I’m going there, treating this rally as a great training before the next stages of the fight. And the fight has just began!’ he ended, with a smile.
Results of the fourth stage:
World Cup Classification: