Another shortened special stage, great landslide of a mountain slope, a provisional bivouac half-way to Salta, and as a result, the -9th stage of the rally was cancelled. And so Tuesday came and went. This year’s Dakar Rally is truly not kind to the participants. Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski, driving against the wind and through the fog,managed to reach the finish line on another day, and are currently classified on the 9th and 13th positions in the general classification, respectively.
‘The organizers want the Dakar Rally to be harder and harder every year. And they are just perfect at that. Not only because of the simplified roadbook, full of unclear information, but also because of the weather. Today we drove in the fog, in the mud, in the water, and in low temperatures at significant heights. I won’t say that these were my favourite conditions, but I guess this is why we are really here – to move the limits of our tolerance and resistance to such numerous obstacles,’ said the Polish rider at the finish line of the marathon stage.
The 2015 winner had problems with finding the right way among the thick desert greenery during day one of the marathon stage. ‘I also had to dig my quad out, which got stuck between two bushes. I was alone, so I was exhausted. In the evening, in Uyuni, I could feel the pains of the day and the high altitude affected me,’ he admitted.
However, he could not allow himself to rest. ‘Kamil noticed that my nut came loose at the axis in my quad. It’s not complicated to repair, but if we had missed it, I could stop on the next day after one hundred kilometres and I wouldn’t be able to move again. You can say that he saved my skin…
The participants spent the night at the huge Bolivian dry salt lake like last year, in pretty spartan conditions. The spirit of the first African Dakar Rallies came back, because on the next day, the exhausted and sleepy column had almost 900 km to cover. Only the weather was not right. Moreover, the Polish riders went off at the very end. Electric installation failed in Wiśniewski’s quad and the riders had to spend 40 minutes on repairing it. And then, in the mud, in the storm, in the hail, through the overflowing lands and in the mud, they survived another day. Sonik appeared at the finish line with the tenth time, two positions ahead of his team colleague.
‘Kamil did very well today. He’s driving a very heavy and large quad. I admire him, because he’s dealing with it admirably. It’s lucky that he’s with me here, because together, we can find some pleasure in driving in this extremely unpleasant edition of the supermarathon,’ said Rafał about his younger colleague.
After the special stage that had been shortened to 419km, the riders were to reach bivouac in Salta. Unfortunately, this did not come to be. Due to the heavy rains, there was a landslide that cut off the main access road to the south of Argentina. The organizers got a provisional bivouac ready on the way.
In connection with the landslide, in which three residents of the Volcano village died, the organizers decided to cancel the ninth stage of the rally that was to take place on Wednesday. That was to be the truly regal stage, with demanding navigation, dunes, and… changes in the general classification. 406 km of the special stage and 570 km of the access section were cancelled. The day without racing will be spent on regrouping of the entire rally’s caravan and to restore normal conditions at the bivouac in Chielecito. ‘If the road is not cleared, and it is a bit likely, we will have five hours of driving on metalled mountain roads, followed by 10 hours of driving on bitumen roads. Over 1000 km in total. Without time control, but it will be just as exhausting…’ commented Sonik.
Results of the eighth stage
1. Ignacio Casale (CHL) 05:26.46
2. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) +5.39
3. Axel Dutrie (FRA) +7.16
10. Rafał Sonik (POL) +33.39
12. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +41.13
1. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) 27:45:50
2. Axel Dutrie (FRA) +6.57
3. Ignacio Casale (CHL) +10.19
9. Rafał Sonik (POL) +3:13.45
13. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +4:59.47