The first stage of the Atacama Rally was the first real challenge after Rafał Sonik’s recovery and comeback to racing. „The pain is out of control but so is the excitement I’ve got from completing a special stage in a rally. I suppose my results are also quite decent, considering my past injury. My competitors haven’t lunged ahead as far as I expected,” commented Sonik at the finish line in Copiapó.
Every year during the Atacama Rally, everything is up to „the camanchaca”. It dictates the take-off of the emergency helicopters, and consequently, the beginning of the race. The organizers must wait until it moves towards the ocean and only then can they allow the contestants to start the engines. Common during this season of the year, „the camanchaca” is a morning fog, which blankets the Chilean coast, limiting visibility and delaying the launch of the race. It usually disperses around 10 am, revealing huge sand dunes and giving up space to the racers.
The Tuesday stage was a 266-kilometer stretch of a difficult, desert terrain. It seemed awfully similar to those encountered by raiders during the most engaging editions of the Dakar Rally in South America. „ At certain times, the ride was just excellent. In general, I had to be really careful, but I was much more cautious than usual anyway. While crossing obstacles, other contestants were able to bear more weight on their legs than me. I couldn’t allow myself to do that,” admitted „SuperSonik”.
„Considering my safe speed, the final result is pretty decent. Seven months ago, I decided I wouldn’t give up on riding, and now I feel that I’m changing my luck! It brings me an enormous joy and a real energy boost. What’s best, I can share my excitement with the whole team. We are all happy to come back to racing, so we can’t complain at all!” concluded the winner of the 2015 Dakar Rally.
The longest, 376-kilometer long stage is planned for Tuesday. It is also the only day when the competitors head south of Copiapó, and so they won’t run across the trails they had left there during the first days of the rally.
Stage 1 results:
1. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) 4:00.41
2. Aleksander Maksimow (RUS) +2.13
3. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) +3.46
4. Rafał Sonik (POL) +7.34
5. Nilson Saldia (CHL) +1:18.51
6. Tomas Saldia (CHL) +1:23.06
7. Alexander Kotesky (CHL) +1:24.24
1. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) 4:02.25
2. Aleksander Maksimow (RUS) +2.20
3. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) +3.47
4. Rafał Sonik (POL) +7.41
5. Nilson Saldia (CHL) +1:19.03
6. Tomas Saldia (CHL) +1:23.11
7. Alexander Kotesky (CHL) +1:24.38