Rafał Sonik opened the third stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after the judges distributed penalties for driving over the limit among other participants on Monday evening. Even though it moved Sonik to the forefront, it worked against his favor. “This is the iron rule of this rally. Whoever opens the stage, never wins it. I wasn’t able to break this rule today either”, admitted the quad rider.
Even before the start, the 7-time FIM World Cup winner and 8-time participant of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was very aware of the strenuous task looming over him. “Ironically, the penalties were not really beneficial for me. Opening the stage is generally disadvantageous because other drivers gain time following your tracks. They don’t lose that much energy, are able to pick a better route across dunes and make fewer mistakes. Just by catching up with me, they can make up for the lost minutes. Strategically, this setup is unfortunate but I will do my best to bear the brunt of being the leader”, said Rafał Sonik.
The burden of a leader did not affect Sonik’s results and he was able to keep the lead of the stage and the rally until he reached the 180-kilometer pit stop. However, as soon as the cars caught up with him, he stood no chance and the distance between Sonik and his competitors began to decrease.
“The moment first cars passed me, I knew my rivals would soon start to breathe down my neck. The tracks became clear and visible since the cars had smoothened the edges of dunes, making it so much easier to follow. After that, none of us had a real chance to flee the others, so we reached the end of the stage together. There are two more racing days to go and this setup is not favorable for me. Even if, tomorrow, I caught up with my opponents, I would have to be the one running away the last day. What is actually needed here is a stroke of luck and a fierce fight until the very last kilometer”, summed up „SuperSonik”, who dropped to the third position in the classification.
Courtesy of the organizers, Wednesday will challenge the participants with 286 km of the special stage. The Pole is third in line to hit the road. Currently, Rafał Sonik is second in the veteran’s category for motorcycles and quads.
Stage III results
1. Aleksander Maksimow (RUS) 4:49.59
2. Fahid Al-Mussalam (KUW) +0.05
3. Rafał Sonik (POL) +3.58
4. Arkadiusz Lindner (POL) +20.27
1. Aleksander Maksimow (RUS) 13:40.21
2. Fahid Al-Mussalam (KUW) +0.56
3. Rafał Sonik (POL) +3.48
4. Arkadiusz Lindner (POL) +41.58