Wednesday’s special stage of Sealine Cross-Country Rally began at the foot of the white dunes in the south of Qatar. Just after the start, Rafał Sonik had to stop. At the fourth kilometre his colleague, Julian Villarubia competing for Spain on motorcycles, had an accident. ‘From that moment, I needed 200 km to start trusting my roadbook again,’ said Rafał at the finish line.
Julian Villarubia plays a double role in Rafał Sonik’s team. He’s responsible for preparing the roadbook, and sometimes he starts with our quad rider as his mobile support on route. He was extremely unlucky – the accident happened at a dangerous spot, which hadn’t been marked on the map by the organizers. He fell down from a ten-metre-high dune.
‘It was a long drive up, and a strong edge, and the so-called “drop”, that is a practically vertical wall that you can’t drive down on. Luckily, the sand on the drive up was quite soft. It slowed him down a little. Interestingly, the roadbook didn’t have this place marked, but a similar dune was to be located in 800 metres, and that one was marked,’ explained Rafał Sonik, who helped his colleague on site.
Despite the accident, the organizer failed to mark this dangerous spot and less than an hour later two cars fell down from the same dune. One of the cars was Toyota driven by Marek Dąbrowski and Jacek Czachor, who spent an hour to repair the car, but they did complete the special stage. The Qatar team wasn’t so lucky – the driver is in hospital.
‘This is something that I can’t understand,’ commented SuperSonik. ‘Because of Julian’s accident, I stopped trusting the roadbook and I looked and looked at every hill that stood in my way. Only after the gas stop I regained my rhythm and confidence. And I’m even more happy that I managed to win today. This victory is quite bitter – Julian broke seven ribs and he will stay in the local hospital for three days, probably.
During the third stage, the Polish participant was faster than Ignacio Casale by 21 seconds. The Chilean complained about concentration problems and exhaustion. He also conceded that he made several serious navigation mistakes.
The fourth stage might be the tipping point. At the beginning, the participants will face about 50 km of a route that is difficult to navigate, and the last part of this stage runs through difficult, soft and grassy dunes. In total, the riders will cover 354 km of a special stage.