‘I know that my victory wasn’t spectacular, but I always say that the victory goes not to the rider that does something spectacular, but to the rider who makes no mistakes,’ said Rafał Sonik at the finish line of his seventh Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in his career. He repeated his success from 2014 and won the rally, taking the first step on his way to the fifth World Cup title.
As planned, Rafał Sonik did not charge during that last stage. He arrived at the finish line over ten minutes after Ignacio Casale, and with a small loss to Kees Koolen. But it was the Polish rider who had the most reasons to be overjoyed, because winning the first round of the FIM World Cup put him on the position of the leader of the entire series. ‘There are many years of starts, failures, injuries behind me. Seven attempts of trying to win this rally – and my second win. I can say that I’m satisfied just like in 2014, when I took the podium for the first time,’ he said.
“SuperSonik” also added that for the past years he has learned how to fight at the dunes in the United Arab Emirates. ‘This desert is incredibly challenging, but also beautiful. If you learn how to deal with it, you will also feel joy next to the huge efforts. I experienced that joy many times during this rally. And it wasn’t easy. In particular today, as the solution devised by Jarek Zając, my mechanic, paid off and the front shock absorbers finally worked smoothly,’ said Sonik.
Despite the pleasure that he experiences after years of training and racing in the United Arab Emirates, the World Cup title defender is far from saying that he feels in Abu Dhabi or Dubai at home. The best way to explain it is to use today’s example. Yesterday during the briefing the organizers asked the participants to be reasonable and extremely careful, because practically each year something happens during that last day of the rally. Unfortunately, 30 kilometres before the finish line one of the bikers had a serious accident. The last stage was far from easy, and the heat, the tiredness, are taking its toll. You have to be careful until the very end – today I was the one to cross the finish line of the special stage from the wrong side,’ laughed Sonik.
The next round of the World Cup will take place during the Sealine Cross Country Rally in Qatar, which is to begin on 17 April. ‘We have only one week to regenerate – it’s not long. I’m very curious as to what the results will be there, because this rally is very difficult and very challenging in terms of navigation. This is also why I’m very happy with this victory, which is a great place to start the entire season,’ ended Sonik.