For the first time in his career, Kamil Wiśniewski won a stage of a World Cup race and became the leader of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Due to contaminated fuel, Rafał Sonik had a lot of technical problems on the road, but despite the overheating pump and the forced stops at 43 degrees, he arrived at the finish line. What’s more, the judges gave the lost time back and two “Eagles from Poland” became the leaders.
The first stage was held in very difficult conditions. The riders went off into the desert that hasn’t seen a drop of water for many months. The heat was pouring down and the temperature inside cars reached even 60 degrees. Quad riders and bikers got cooled down a bit by the rush of air, but Rafał Sonik was not so lucky. Due to technical difficulties, he had to stop every once in a while and wait until his engine cools down.
‘During the fuel stop, the service team topped my tank up with fuel from a can instead of from the cistern. The can must’ve been dirty, because a few kilometres later the filters were clogged, the pump was overheating and the quad threatened to fail. I had to stop all the time. I used up all my water to cool down the engine, so I was completely dehydrated at the finish line,’ said Rafał Sonik.
When the six-times winner of the World Cup fought to reach the finish line, Kamil Wiśniewski was celebrating his win. The young quad rider was fantastic. As he beat two local rivals, he became the rally’s leader. ‘I started about half an hour before Rafał, so I wasn’t aware of what was going on behind my back. I only learned about it at the bivouac, but the judges didn’t let me go back to help him,’ said Kamil Wiśniewski.
Rafał Sonik continued to fight on the way to the bivouac. He had to meet the time limit, and quad continued to cause trouble. When he got to the bivouac, the mechanics removed the fuel filters and Sonik took them to the judges. The situation was analysed, Sonik’s trip recorded in the navigation system was analysed – and he was given 37 minutes back. The stage results remained the same, but in the general classification SuperSonik went up to the second place – 18 second behind Kamil Wiśniewski.
‘Today cost me a lot of strength, but I’m happy to rest now. In terms of results, one can hardly imagine a better beginning of a race than this. Kamil’s driving is great and I hope we will still be in the lead tomorrow,’ concluded Sonik.
Results of the first stage: