Four starts, three wins, one second place. These are the historic results of Rafał Sonik in the previous editions of Sealine Cross-Country Rally. This year, it won’t be easy to repeat this feat. Ignacio Casale came to Qatar, promising to fight for the World Cup in the full FIM rally series, so the Pole will have a very demanding rival on his hands.
While the Chilean will undoubtedly be a difficult rival to combat, it is not him that Rafał Sonik is most afraid of. ‘They say that ‘boys don’t cry’, but I’ve seen many, many riders crying from helplessness during this rally. I’ve been there, too. After one edition Andy Schulz said that he would end his career. Why? Because racing here is completely different than racing in any other rally. The speed, the technique – this does not really matter here. What matters is navigation. And even the best of the bast can get lost here,’ he explained.
On Sunday afternoon the riders received their first roadbooks, which turned out to be very thick rolls in the case of bikers and quad riders. Thicker than those they received at many stages of Dakar, even though the special stage to be held on Monday will be the shortest one out of the five stages planned for the upcoming days.
‘The desert in Qatar is completely different than the one in the United Arab Emirates. It’s harsh, full of stones, and rocks, and first and foremost – flat as a a pancake on long distances. There are hardly any characteristic points, which makes it very difficult to navigate there,’ emphasized the leader and defender of the FIM World Cup title.
‘And that’s not only about navigation skills,’ he added, ‘but about self-confidence. Two years ago, two local quad riders turned around and went in the opposite direction than me. I hesitated, but I decided to trust my instinct and skills. In the end, I gained half an hour on them. To be fair, I must say that I also called the organizers once so that they would tell me where to go, because I had absolutely to idea where I was,’ laughed SuperSonik.
The first stage of the rally will begin on the north-western coast of Qatar. The participants will cross the entire country from the north to the south, finishing the 226 km of a special stage at the dunes of the south-eastern coast. ‘Over the next five days we’ll work flat out. I’m very excited to see what’s waiting for us there,’ concluded Sonik, smiling.