Although the prologue to OiLibya Rally had only 12 kilometres, it clearly showed that no competitor wants to give up in this last round of the FIM World Cup series. The fastest rider was the current leader, Kees Koolen, but Rafał Sonik was only 31 seconds behind. This proves that despite his injuries, he will press on and stay close to his main rival until the very end.
This year’s anniversary tenth edition of OiLibya Rally in Morocco began by honouring the “legends” of this prestigious rally, whose origins coincided with the move of the Dakar Rally to South America. ‘I think this is partially why this rally is called the “Small Dakar”. Ever since the Rally of Egypt is no longer in the racing calendar, this rally is one of the few opportunities to race in the Sahara desert,’ said Sonik, who was one of the awarded riders.
He took his place on the stage next to outstanding riders from all classes. The organizers appreciated e.g. Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz, Pablo Goncalves, Sam Sunderland, Bruno da Costa, or Elisabete Jacinto. The “SuperSonik” nickname, which is what Sonik’s fans call him, is clearly supported by the statistics: out of four times he participated in this rally, he won three times and was second once.
‘This is a lot of baggage. This also means that I tried to mark it already during the prologue that I won’t give up my position on the podium of the World Cup easily. The third place is a good start. In particular as the navigation was of little significance today. Rather, the route encouraged to step on the gas and only several key places required us to slow down. This is why the time differences are so small,’ he said.
The important thing is that the knee, injured in June, is now fully healthy. ‘I only felt a slight discomfort in the ankle that I had broken during Desafio Ruta 40. It was very slight, but we’ll see tomorrow how my ankle will respond to the hardship of the stage, which is over 800 km in length,’ said Sonik, who is now competing for the eight podium of the World Cup series in his career.
At the beginning of the prologue, it turned out that our Polish champion has fewer rivals. Rodolfo Guillioli did not come, and the winner of the last Dakar Rally, Sergey Karyakin, left his quad behind and joined the cars category as a UTV driver in class T3. ‘Our priorities were different, but I still regret that we won’t be able to test ourselves before January. Now I’m chasing Koolen and I’m running away from Hernandez, so for the polonaise now!’ concluded Sonik, with a smile.
Results of the prologue
1. Kees Koolen (NLD) 10.39
2. Sebastien Souday (FRA) +0.24
3. Rafał Sonik (POL) +0.31
4. Aleksandr Maksimov (RUS) + +0.37
5. Alexis Hernandez (PER) +0.59