It’s been 170 days since Rafał Sonik got off his quad after the last special stage of the previous season. The decision to give up on participating in this year’s Dakar Rally was well-thought but the time without the adrenaline rush has left Sonik anxious to return to the desert wilderness. During his eighth start in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the champion from Krakow will fight for the third victory of this FIM World Cup round and the precious points in the overall World Cup ranking.
As every year, the challenge in the United Arab Emirates inaugurates the race for the FIM Cross Country Rally World Cup Championship. “SuperSonik” has made several successful appearances here in the past, winning twice in 2014 and 2016, securing the second place in 2015, and the third place in 2013. The Polish champion welcomes the new racing season in a great condition. After the long healing process, his knee is back in shape and the vision and aim for the new season are clear and precise.
“To win the FIM World Cup”, the 7-time trophy winner announced shortly, “This year’s season is quite short, comprising of only four races, like the one in 2012. However, the 10-day Silk Way Rally is on the calendar, which you may rightly call the Asian Dakar Rally. I am not going to strive for winning all World Cup rounds at all costs though. My main goal is to win the trophy of the season and this goal determines my strategy”, emphasized Sonik.
Racing across the sands of Abu Dhabi is not simply a sporting competition. It is also a chance to experience one of the most picturesque deserts of the world from a very close distance.
“One visit to this desert makes you fall in love for a lifetime. This is why I am here again. I come back to race against time and space, against the wind flattening the tops of dunes and smoothening the tracks of those that have driven before. We venture through a pristine, surreal area which is captivating, desolate, and ruthless. It awaits our smallest mistakes. After all, maybe the peril of this place makes it so alluring? You may travel all day without encountering a single living creature, even a camel! But you can also run into a herd of sheep led by a shepherd on a quad. The Empty Quarter can indeed catch you off-guard”, admitted Rafał Sonik, describing the beauty of his favorite desert.
Coming Sunday, Sonik will get a chance to race through this exquisite landscape. His main rival in the challenge is the last year’s FIM World Cup winner, Aleksander Maksimow from Russia. Another serious competitor on the starting line is the winner of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge from two years back, Fahad Al-Mussalam from Kuwait, and the fifth racer of the last Dakar Rally, Manuel Andujar from Argentina. Another Polish driver, Arkadiusz Lindner, will make Abu Dhabi his racing debut on a 4-wheel ATV.