‘After a very good stage on Tuesday, I was the leader. And I was very motivated today. I felt like I could drive the last two days very well. Everything went as it should, I was alone at the desert, I held my rhythm, and my rivals trailed about six minutes behind me. Suddenly, my quad lost power and stopped. The gearbox just fell apart,’ said Rafał Sonik, who failed to complete the Thursday’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge stage.
Initially, he hoped that it was the drive shaft that failed, as he is always ready for it and can repair it. Unfortunately, as he got off his Honda, he saw that a part of the engine rests in the sand and the ratchets are completely damaged. ‘It meant that the quad wouldn’t go even one more metre and that I had to call the chopper,’ said Sonik.
Even though the desert in the Emirates is quite extensive, the competitors usually follow the trace of the leader. And that was exactly what happened here – a few minutes later, new quad riders appeared next to Sonik. ‘The rule is that if nobody’s life or health is threatened, you can drive on. All of them stopped and asked what happened, but none of them could help me. Even Kamil. I told him to go on, to fight for his own result. There was absolutely no point in him towing me for 150 km. I had to stay.
When such a failure happens one day before the end of a race, frustration appears. The two-times winner of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge did not hide his disappointment. ‘I simply have to be angry, because I’ve been plagued by smaller and bigger technical problems since the very beginning of the rally. It surprised me, because I trained a lot, I tested this quad, and in the end, all that I lacked was a little bit of luck. When I was sitting there on the desert, waiting for the chopper, I had different thoughts in my mind, but life taught me that you should never lose hope. In this sport, you need to fight until the very end, so I’m not giving up!’ he promised.
Rafał Sonik received a penalty of 20 hours for failing to complete a stage. Additional 15 minutes is a penalty for the necessary engine replacement, but despite that, he will appear at the start line of the last special stage on Thursday. ‘For now, it’s difficult to say what caused the failure. We will know when we disassemble the engine. I don’t feel particularly stressed, because once in a few years, this can happen to anyone. Including me. The fight for the World Cup is only beginning. Sure, a lot will depend on the points that my rivals get, but I’m not giving up. My goal is the same,’ he concluded.
In the meantime, Kamil Wiśniewski finished the fourth stage on the sixth place and went down to the third place in the general classification. Surprisingly, it was Rodolfo Guillioli Schippers (Guatemala) who took the lead. He is less than two minutes ahead of Fahid Al-Musallam (Kuwait).
Results of the fourth stage:
-. Rafał Sonik (POL) DNF