Fourth in 2012, third in 2013, second in 2014 – Rafał Sonik has slowly but surely climbed the highest peak in the motor sports. The success came at the beginning of 2015, when Rafał won the Dakar Rally as the first Polish rider in history. And he did it in great style, outdistancing his rival from the second place by almost three hours.
Before the beginning of the Dakar Rally, Rafał was careful in statements, and even though everybody saw him as one of the favourites, he kept his distance.
I will try to drive fast, but safe,
– he kept on repeating, and he did just as he had said he would.
It soon turned out that the pace that SuperSonik worked out during his participation in the World Cup, is sufficient to win special stages and to stay among the top riders. The first signs of his domination showed during the second day of the Rally, when he outdistanced the tired Ignacio Casale during the longest and exhausting 518-kilometre-long special stage. A few days later he won two stages in Chile, showing to his rivals that this time the fight will continue until the very last kilometres of the Rally.
The battle of nerves continued. Ignacio Casale and Rafał Sonik took turns to lead the Rally, and Sergio Lafuente waited behind their backs for them to make a mistake. Even the marathon stage in Bolivia did not divide the top three riders; the stage that caused may great riders to drop out. All because of Salar de Uyuni – the largest salt plane in the world, which was covered by a thin layer of water on the day of that stage. Highly concentrated brine turned out to be deadly for the electric and electronic parts of many motorcycles and quads. The Poland National Team Captain still felt the consequences a day later, when the corrosion of the electric installation forced him to scroll the roadbook manually and pump the fuel between the fuel tanks using a pipe and a bottle.
The Rally spared them no horror. During the tenth stage, Solnik tripped over a hole that was unmarked in the roadbook. The accident threw him off the quad, but he managed to hold on to the driving wheel to protect the vehicle from rolling, dragging his legs along the rocks, getting severely hurt in the process. During the same stage Ignacio Casale and Sergio Lafuente dropped out of the competition, as they lost the fight due to their aggressive and psychotic driving – turning their vehicles into ruins.
At the finish line, Rafał Sonik, the proud winner, dedicated his success to all Polish people who dream of Dakar and those who will no longer be able to make their dreams come true. He did not forget about the Polish biker, Michał Hernik, who died a tragic death during the third stage of the rally.