The only 16-kilometre-long special stage was more eventful than a “full-scale” standard stage. During the prologue to the Atacama Rally, Rafał Sonik had two encounters with trucks. The first one turned out to be quite funny, the second one – made his blood run cold, because it could’ve ended very badly…
The first day of the rally was a short warm-up before the entire rally of 1,800 kilometres. As planned, the contestants drove through 125 kilometres of access roads and 16 kilometres of the prologue, whose route crossed the Atacama desert. There, at a narrow turn, a lost truck appeared out of the blue, which probably came onto the route by accident.
‘The people that run out to warn the incoming riders that they need to slow down behaved as if there had been an accident, so I had my doubts and I slowed down, and carefully drove around the truck. I lost a few seconds, but I don’t regret it, because I heard that one of the bikers had to wait at the railway line until a train crossed it…’ said Rafał Sonik, clearly amused.
However, only an hour after the end of the prologue, he experienced a crowning moment of horror. As he drove along the motorway at about 120 km/h, an unsecured wooden board fell down on him from a truck. ‘When I arrived at the bivouac, my hands were shaking. I’m not surprised that something like this had happened, because I’ve seen unsecured goods on South American trucks many times before, but I was incredibly lucky. I had no time to react, so had the board fell down on a rim, instead of falling flat, the results would’ve been tragic…’ commended Sonik, whose only instinct was to hide his head behind the wind shield.
The quad isn’t damaged very badly, but the mechanics will have more work to do during the night than they planned. In particular, as this is the first rally since the last Dakar in which the World Cup leader will race on Yamaha Raptor 700. ‘I feel like I got off my Raptor a few days ago, and this is the best testimony to my form and to the work that my team put in to build and perfect this quad.’
‘The desert used to scare me, now I only enjoy it,’ ended Sonik, as he admitted that he can’t wait for the first stage around Antofagasta, 200 kilometres long. In the prologue, Sonik came up second, with a loss of only half a minute to the leader.