‘My team and me accustomed our fans that we never give up. The first rally of the season was not our dream one, but it doesn’t mean that we are giving up. We are going to Qatar to fight for the World Cup,’ promised Rafał Sonik, who has won Qatar Cross-Country Rally three times to date. Unfortunately, this time our quad rider will fight alone.
During Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, like during the Dakar Rally, Rafał drove in a team with Kamil Wiśniewski. Even though he had suffered an injury to his shoulder and wrist, he completed the rally on the second place on his Yamaha Raptor. ‘Unfortunately, Kamil is not back to full strength. Only a week divides the rallies in Abu Dhabi and in Qatar, and this is not enough to regenerate, not to mention rehabilitate. This is why he had to withdraw from this round, but we will surely drive together before Dakar this year,’ said Rafał Sonik.
The six-times winner of the World Cup will need to face the extremely difficult, dangerous and complicated route alone. According to many experts, Qatar Cross-Country Rally is the most difficult competition of the season. ‘For me, the most difficult thing is not the fact that we are driving on our own traces every day and that it is easy to make a navigation mistake. Everyone here makes mistakes. The most difficult thing here is that the first day can determine the order at the finish line. There is no way that a competitor that begins the stage as the leader in their class could drive ahead or lose the rivals. This is why in Qatar, what I need is tactics… and a bit of luck,’ he conceded.
“SuperSonik” cannot complain about his choice of strategy and luck so far. He participated in the rally through the Qatar’s desert five times – and he listened to the Polish hymn three times and came up second twice. ‘While this rally is far from easy or pleasant, the desert here is much uglier than in the UAE, I feel a sentimental attachment to it. It’s important to remember that the route is very dangerous. Hard, rocky and flat terrain encourages high speeds. Last year, every year the emergency chopper took one of the leading bikers away, as they got carried away and encountered a rock or a hollow in the sand that was invisible in the strong light,’ he commented.
Without a doubt, Sonik’s experience will be a huge asset. His most dangerous rivals are competing at the Qatar’s desert for the first time and are not yet aware of the challenge that awaits them. Out of the seven registered competitors, only the Polish rider and Camelia Liparoti have ever raced here. This will be a huge challenge both for the three riders from South America (Alexis Hernandes, Rodolfo Guillioli Schippers and Lucas Innocente) and Kees Koolen. Koolen has a unique and most powerful quad of all riders, yet in this rally, it is not the engine power that is the deciding factor.
This year’s edition of the Qatar Cross-Country Rally will begin with a prologue on Tuesday. The prologue will be followed by four stages, 1994 km in total, of which 1374 km will be the special stages. Next to Rafał Sonik, two Polish bikers: Adam Tomiczek and Maciej Giemza will participate in the rally. In the cars category, Poland will be represented by Aron Domżała and Szymon Gospodarczyk, and Jakub Przygoński accompanied by a Belgian pilot, Tom Colsoul.