Rafał Sonik ended the second stage of the Dakar Rally on the sixth place, only six and a half minute behind Ignacio Casale. It would seem that this is nothing to be so happy about, and yet the Polish champion was overcome by optimism at the finish line of the special stage. ‘I was certain that I was at least 25 minutes behind the leaders, and it turned out that the loss is minute,’ he explained, smiling.
After the first stage was cancelled, the competitors started the second, shortened special stage in the order that was determined by the prologue. It meant that Rafał Sonik will have 13 rivals on quads and a lot of bikers ahead of him to take over. ‘I was driving behind Keese Koolen for some 30 km, and then behind Daniel Mazzuco. The dust was huge, and I promised myself not to do anything stupid and to keep a wide safety margin. Despite that, I took over eight quad riders, I think, and twice as many bikers. Bikers took me over on straight sections, but then I left them behind me on the more winding parts of the route,’ said Sonik.
The ORLEN Team champion was not able to guess how many minutes he lost while driving in the clouds of dust behind his rivals, often on the second or third gear, like strolling in the park. ‘I was afraid that the leaders will run too far ahead. Luckily, the loss was much smaller than I feared. I have to say I was surprised, because I didn’t press too hard,’ he explained.
Like with cars, there was a lot of mud along the route of this stage. ‘We managed to drive through the worst sections, but everybody were covered in mud from head to toe. I reached the bivouac on a clean quad, because my service team did a quick wash-up of my ride after the stage,’ laughed Sonik.
On Tuesday, the Dakar’s column is to reach the mountains – and this is good news for the Polish champion, who loves the curvaceous and technical sections. ‘Importantly, I’ll have a decent starting place and I won’t have to take over so many bikers. So, tomorrow might be better – and the competition among the leaders should be more interesting,’ concluded the winner of the last year’s Dakar Rally.
PKN ORLEN supports Rafał Sonik’s participation in the rally.
Results of the second stage:
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 04:10.47
2. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) + 3.49
3. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) + 3.58
6. Rafał Sonik (POL) + 6.35
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 04:18.01
2. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF) + 4.00
3. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG) + 4.06
6. Rafał Sonik (POL) Yamaha + 6.58