The first section of the marathon stage of this year’s OiLibya Rally was disrupted by the Moroccan army, who crossed the route of the rally and stopped a dozen or so bikers. The organizer had to cancel the first 130 km, to ensure that all participants have equal chances for the win. Rafał Sonik, who managed to cover the last several dozen of kilometres without a steering damper, arrived at the finish line with the second best time and went up in the classification by one position.
‘This stage was absolutely horrible,’ said quad rider, tired, at the finish line. ‘I lost my steering dumper, which works as a power steering system in quads. In order to keep the steering wheel in my hands, I had to sit all the time. My driving speed went down, and I got exhausted. All things considering, the result is absolutely fantastic,’ he said.
Rafał Sonik, like other competitors, made several navigation mistakes. It was both due to a very sparsely prepared roadbook, but also due to the focus that was needed while driving on a not fully operational quad. ‘We drove today in incredible heat, everything is overheating. I can’t do any repairs now. In the morning, when the dumper cools down, I will check whether I can just screw it back on, or whether it simply broke down,’ he said.
If the latter is true, it means that the five-time winner of the World Cup will have to drive the entire stage on Wednesday on a damaged quad. ‘It’s not the end of the world. My arms will hurt more and I’ll have blisters on my hands. I’ll need to work more, physically, but I’ll reach the finish line,’ promised Sonik, with optimism.
Despite these adventures, he was in a great mood. Probably the mood after the very difficult special stage was greatly improved by how the bivouac, where the competitors are not allowed to use the assistance of their service teams, looked like. ‘It’s like during the old Dakar Rallies. We’re sleeping in tents, on the Sahara desert. Starry sky above us – and silence. It’s fantastic,’ he summarized.
The marathon stage ends on Wednesday. The competitors will cover 290 km of a special stage, only to surrender their machines to mechanics after two heavy days of racing. Wednesday will also mark the half of the rally – they will start the last final straight, to be finished on Friday in Erfoud.
Results of the second stage:
1. Sebastien Souday (FRA) 02:34.59
2. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 17.00
3. Bruno da Costa (FRA) + +36.43
1. Sebastien Souday (FRA) 04:27.01
2. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 26.13
3. Bruno Da Costa (FRA) + 44.40