Rafał Sonik finished the Morocco Rally with the second position, reaching for the silver medal of the FIM World Cup 2018 and the FIM Veteran World Cup 2018. “My tenth and eleventh medal, both equally precious, mean so much to me this season. It is a great motivation, because by winning a double podium, despite the serious injury at the beginning of the year, I was able to let everyone know, myself, my team, and my rivals, that I’m back to racing”, said the cross-country champion at the final finish line of the competition.
When, at the end of March, the FIM World Cup had started, Rafał Sonik went to the United Arab Emirates solely to take a closer look at his opponents’ abilities. “The first stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is usually the first day of the race for medals. This time, I had to stand back and observe, barely able to walk a few steps on crutches. I remember that feeling very well, therefore my satisfaction is even greater. After a long and arduous rehabilitation, months of difficult training and uncertainty, I succeeded in taking the podium in all of the three rallies I participated in. Now, I got my third silver medal and seventh World Cup under my belt. This is the best proof that you should never stop dreaming”, summed up Sonik, commenting on this year’s season.
The last stage of the Saharan challenge was everything but a pleasant stroll. The first part of the special stage took the participants through jagged mountains and narrow bouldery paths, traversing across steep slopes and rock shelves. “We had to face many right-way, uphill turns, which meant a lot of pressure on my left leg. It was rather strenuous and I could feel the consequences by the end of the race. The pain was bearable but constant enough to take away the pleasure of the ride”, admitted Sonik.
Having reached the finish line of the Morocco Rally, the champion from Cracow had more reasons to feel proud than just getting the medals. The winner of the rally and the FIM World Cup, Aleksander Maksimow, would have been in real trouble if it hadn’t been for the Pole’s gift, the piece of the frame that he was missing.
“Aleksander is a real athlete and his accomplishments and stamina are impressive. He had accidents during each of the last three rallies. Twice he picked himself up and made it to the end, winning the podium. Last Sunday, on the marathon bivouac, I watched him trying to repair his quad with fierce determination. I promised him that if he made it to the end of the fourth stage, I would give him my subframe so he could fix his vehicle properly. That’s what we did and I don’t find it unusual or special in any way. I think he would do the same thing for me”, admitted Sonik.
It wasn’t the first time when Rafał Sonik assisted his opponent. He gave his spare goggles to Mohamed Abu Issa during one of the Qatar rallies, which enabled the Qatari to save the precious minutes and, ultimately, win the race. In 2011, just like this year, he gave his subframe to Łukasz Łaskawiec, who used it to get to the Dakar Rally podium. “Maksimow knew he would win the World Cup anyway, but this type of breakdown would most surely spoil the pleasure of finishing the season for him. Following the fair-play rules gives you much more joy than winning at all costs”, added the Polish champion.
The winners received the trophies during the closing ceremony of the Morocco Rally and the FIM World Cup. Now, Rafał Sonik is about to face an important decision about his next start. “The first round of Super Enduro is coming on December 8th. This is the nearest moto-related event that I will most certainly attend. As every year, I want to cheer for Tadek Błażusiak and Emil Juszczak in Tauron Arena while they challenge the world’s best”, said the Dakar winner, keeping his other plans to himself.
FIM World Cup 2018 final classification
1. Aleksander Maksimow (RUS) 105
2. Rafał Sonik (POL) 61
3. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) 56
4. Kees Kooolen (NLD) 51
5. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) 26
FIM Veteran World Cup 2018 final classification
1. Rafał Sonik (POL) 75
2. Kees Koolen (NLD) 47
3. Benjamin Young (AUS) 42
4. David McBride (GBR) 28
5. Alejandro Aros (CHL) 23