It is a rare thing that Sahara suffers from having too much water. Yet this is exactly what happened during OiLibya Rally in Morocco. The special stage was cut short due to the fact that the water level in the rivers that the riders had to cross went up. The organizers took into account the results recorded at the first check point, where Rafał Sonik was second, which is why he stayed in the lead of OiLibya Rally.
‘Several dozen kilometres after the first gas stop I reached a group of top bikers, who were standing at a river bank,’ he said. ‘They said that it is very dangerous to try and cross it, and only two bikers decided to do so. Maciek Giemza was one of them, the other was Juan Pedrero. They both turned around after some time, because they encountered another river after 30 km. The Spanish competitor went into the river to check how deep it is, and when the water reached his shoulders, he decided to turn around.
Soon, all bikers and quad riders gathered in the same place that Rafał Sonik mentioned. Slowly, cars also began to appear; some of them managed to cross the river, but they failed at the next obstacle. The competitors got stuck in the middle of the desert flooded with sunshine, hiding in the shadows cast by cars.
‘The organizer arrived in a chopper and had no other choice but to end the rivalry. We drove up to the nearest road and as a column, we reached the bivouac. Tomorrow the marathon stage begins, and as far as the World Cup rivalry goes, the two upcoming days will be crucial. Let’s hope that there won’t be any similar surprises,’ added Sonik, who ended up on the second place, with four seconds behind Kees Koolen. The Polish quad rider remained the leader.
The upcoming Sunday is not only the day that the competitors won’t be able to seek help of their service teams, but it is also the day that the longest special stage of OiLibya Rally will take place on: 578 kilometres in total, with neutralisation zone of 180 kilometres in the middle. The plans include vast, flat spaces, picturesque valleys and palm groves, with a rocky section with bivouac at the foot of great dunes to boot.
Results of the second stage:
1. Kees Koolen (NLD) 01:48.44
1. Rafał Sonik (POL) 05:41.04
2. Kees Koolen (NLD) +4.54
3. Bruno da Costa (FRA) +6.09
4. Sebastien Souday (FRA) +6.15
5. Aleksandr Maksimov (RUS) +6.51
6. Alexis Hernandez (PER) +13.11