Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski arrived at the finish line of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Thursday’s early afternoon. Polish quad riders had mixed luck. Sonik finished the rally despite the engine failure and took the eighth place. On the last day, Kamil Wiśniewski rolled over twice, but he kept going and arrived at the finish line, taking the second place in the general classification.
In theory, the last stage of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was to be a formality, but the desert likes to play tricks, and the leaders of two classes saw it with their very own eyes. Nasser Al-Attiyah, having an almost two-hour advantage over his rivals, had a rollover and did not complete the rally; the cars category was won by Khalid Al-Qassimi. In the quads category, Rodolfo Guillioli Schippers had a dramatic experience – his quad failed. The Guatemalan rider lost the leading position and fell down to the seventh place. A young competitor from Kuwait, Fahid Al-Musallam, won the race. Kamil Wiśniewski was second – even though the last day of the rally was a true survival for him.
‘About 30 kilometres after the start, my injured left hand gave in and couldn’t hold the driving wheel. I tried to counter, but I failed and I found myself under my quad. I had to crawl out quickly, because fuel was dropping on me. Rafał turned back and wanted to help me, but I gave him thumbs-up, I placed my quad the right side up, waited a moment, and continued. I had another rollover just before the finish line, but I somehow reached it,’ smiled Kamil – holder of the second position in the race.
During the first rollover, Wiśniewski lost his camelbak, which meant that he lost his water supply. He drank half a litre during fuel stop and that was the only liquid he consumed while driving through 200 km of difficult road through the dunes. ‘In light of Kamil’s adventures and the fact that he drove with injured shoulder and wrist, his result is truly impressive. Congratulations are clearly in order, and I’m truly happy. We were so close to standing on the podium together, it would be fantastic. But sport writes stories of its own, and we can’t always predict them. We weren’t so fortunate this time, but I’m sure the podium will be ours in the future, more than once,’ commented Rafał Sonik.
The defender of the trophy failed to complete the fourth stage due to engine failure. He had to accept a 20-hour penalty, but it allowed him to complete the race and get valuable points in the World Cup Classification. ‘It was my 176th stage in the World Cup series. I completed each and every one of them, so statistically, that could’ve happened. It is rare, because I don’t modify the engines, so I don’t expose them to extra burden. The failure was very surprising. And frustrating, because I must admit that I lost a race that I almost won. Luckily, I’m at the finish line and I will get some points in the general classification, but the small number makes my situation very difficult this year. I’m aware how incredible, huge challenge it will be to win this year’s series,’ commented Rafał Sonik, who won the World Cup title six times.
Kees Koolen will probably be the main worry of Rafał Sonik. While he finished the race just one position higher, but he has an incredibly powerful weapon. ‘I’ve been considering driving a Yamaha in all rallies of this season and leaving Honda out, but neither of these quads is the fastest. Barren, the new certified construction driven by Kees Koolen is built based on the KTM690 engine and has 80 hp, 20 more than all other quads. It also has six gears and is much lighter. The entire thing has been manufactured with incredible technical diligence, and the failure during the first stage was due to an error made at the KTM factory and has already been eliminated. He will be a very difficult rival,’ emphasized Sonik.
After Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Kamil Wiśniewski has 20 points, while Rafał Sonik – 7 points in the general classification of the World Cup series. The next opportunity to get new points and to go up in the general classification happens in 10 days, when the Qatar Rally begins – a very challenging and difficult to navigate round in the rally calendar.
Results of the fifth stage:
World Cup Classification: