After a long period of drought, along with the Dakar Rally, Bolivia welcomed clouds that carried storms and heavy rains with them. On the route of the fifth stage, among the streams of rain pouring down from the sky onto Altiplano, many competitors struggled with the roadbook instructions. Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski were one of the racers who lost a lot of time in this way.
The special section at the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally was shortened from 447 to 219 kilometres. The rain itself was not the reason; it was because the rivers and streams engorged immediately, changing the landscape and the terrain of the special stage completely. The competitors arrived at the bivouac at the very beginning of the planned neutralisation stage, but they had nothing to regret, because the first part of the stage offered more than enough challenges. In particular navigation challenges.
‘I made mistakes in two places. The first one cost me only a few seconds. We arrived at two rivers, and none of them led in the direction marked in the roadbook. I chose the one on the right, but I turned back. After a few kilometres, the one on the left turned in the desired direction. However, these problems were nothing compared with what awaited us on the way to the control point at the 180th kilometre,’ said Rafał Sonik.
The place mentioned by the Polish master was located at the exit from a small village and led many leading riders astray. Valuable tens of minutes were lost not only by quad riders but also by such bikers as Joan Barreda, Paulo Goncalves, Ricky Brabec or Mathias Walkner and pilots: Mikko Hirvonena or Giniela de Villiers.
‘They all got lost. They drove to and fro. The best car navigators stopped and asked people for the right way. This roadbook is prepared for professionals, but even they cannot read it properly! I don’t know if anyone found the right way the first time. I drove extra 100 kilometres, and up to that moment, I was among the leaders…,’ conceded Sonik.
Kamil Wiśniewski also did not avoid navigation problems, who ultimately had a bit more luck. ‘I lost a lot of time at the first place mentioned by Rafał. I met him later, when he was looking for the right way to another waypoint, and we continued together,’ he said.
The participants now have a difficult night ahead of them. It is still raining in Oruro, and bivouac turned into a hug bog, where cars just get bogged down and people sink up to their ankles in the sticky mud. On Saturday, the participants are to begin their way towards La Paz during the longest special stage of this edition, 527 km long. However, this stage is at risk. ‘Bivouac is filled with huge pools of water and the organizer did not let the service trucks in. If we can’t make the daily repairs, tomorrow we won’t be able to start the day. Not to mention that the conditions on the route will be just as difficult, and there end of the rain is far from nigh. It is highly probable that the next day of the rally will be cancelled…,’ ended Rafał Sonik
Results of the fifth stage
1. Kees Koolen (NED) 2:57.43
2. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) + 7.06
3. Simon Vitse (FRA) + 12.57
14. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) + 1:27.10
18. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 1:44.36
1. Simon Vitse (FRA) 19:32:22
2. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) + 8.14
3. Axel Dutrie (FRA) + 10.35
11. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 2:05.46
15. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) + 03:54.57