Another shortened special stage of OiLibya Rally in Morocco was no good news for Rafał Sonik. ‘We’re in for a sprint third day in a row, and I’m clearly a long-distance runner. I like long stages, because then the success truly has many fathers. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen them on Sahara this year yet,’ said the quad rider, who had the third time on Monday and remains on the fifth position in the general classification.
‘In long-distance rallies, it is important to pace yourself, to pay attention to your vehicle, to employ appropriate strategy. This year’s Rally does not offer us the opportunity to compete in the conditions that we are used to. Each and every one of us would love to drive longer distances, because this is where the essence of cross-country racing lies,’ emphasized Sonik, six-times winner of the World Cup title.
This stage was once again shortened by swollen rivers. The riders drove only 172 km, and even though the distance was far from optimal, the route took its toll anyway. ‘There were dunes and that specific, slightly damp fesh-fesh. Unfortunately, I can’t pick up the pace too much on short sandy sections. I have to watch out for the freshly-healed bone in my ankle, because if I injure it again on a harder landing after a jump, I might waive bye-bye to competing in the Dakar Rally next year,’ said the Polish champion.
Kees Koolen was the fastest competitor on Monday, arriving first at the finish line before Alexis Hernandez and Rafał Sonik. The Peruvian rider is now before the Polish champion in the general classification. ‘There is only half a minute between us, so I’m going to try and make up for this loss on the last day. At the moment, I still retain the second place in the World Cup series, so the minimum goal is to keep things as they are now,’ he promised.
On Tuesday, the riders will face 188 km of a special stage, which will take them first through the dunes, followed by WRC-type routes. The competitors will once again deal with challenging navigation; their driving technique will also be put to a test. ‘I don’t think anything major can happen at this distance, but as promised, I’ll step on the gas until the very end. Rallies can be unpredictable, so it’s high time to analyse the last roadbook and to take some rest,’ he concluded.
Results of the fourth stage:
1. Sebastien Souday (FRA) 10:01.42
2. Koolen (NLD) +3.20
3. Bruno da Costa (FRA) +7.01
4. Hernandez (PER) +9.23
5. Rafał Sonik (POL) +9.55