Immediately after the the end of Desafio Ruta 40, Rafał Sonik and his entire team flew to Buenos Aires, where they attended the opening of the exhibition entitled “Poland and Polish people versus independent Argentina 1816-2016” at the side of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Marek Pernal. The ceremony was held at the building of the Senate of the Republic of Argentina.
‘I wanted to start by apologizing for my informal sportswear,’ began Rafał Sonik. ‘However, I think this is fitting, because you do not usually wear the most important Polish symbols while having a suit on. The Polish national emblem is not only the symbol of our national pride, it also symbolizes the values that we take with us while travelling or migrating all over the world. For me, bravery is the most important value.’
Talking about his Dakar story, Rafał Sonik talked to the gathered guests about the national virtue that allows Polish people to go further than any other nation. To reach beyond the horizon, inspired by those who came before them.
‘When I came to Argentina for the first time in 2009, I felt like a castaway on an unknown land. I have never been to this continent before and I have never before taken on such incredible challenges as the Dakar Rally. After I arrived, I began looking for the traces of Poland. And this is how I landed in Martin Coronado, Maciaszkowo, Ignacy Domeyko Library, and the Polish House. The strength of the Polish people that came here before me and changed this world for the better helped me believe that I will combat that distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans that seemed unimaginable at the time. There and back again. This inspiration not only helped me do it, but I also became the first Polish rider who stood on the podium of the Dakar Rally. And I won the very same rally seven years later.’
In this way, Rafał Sonik paid tribute to all Polish people who contributed to the political, artistic, religious, and social life in Argentina in 1816-2016. The exhibition “Poland and Polish people versus independent Argentina 1816-2016”, organized by the Polish Embassy in Argentina in cooperation with the Polish quad rider, is dedicated to them.
Rafał Sonik mentioned one more important person who joined Poland and Argentina: Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Francis. ‘With their lives and messages, they both prove that a man was created to make this world a more beautiful and a better place. I believe that this was the idea that connected Argentinians and Poles,’ he concluded.