Even though it was very hard at times and fighting with the leaders was not so successful, Rafał Sonik and Kamil Wiśniewski could congratulate one another at the finish line of the 39th edition of the Dakar Rally. The cooperation between the riders was great, and at the end, they both exhibited endurance, stamina, and fortitude. This gave them fourth and tenth place in the final classification of the super marathon, respectively. What’s more, our first-timer turned out to be the best quad rider among 4×4 vehicles.
Rafał Sonik was the fourth rider this year, repeating his 2012 result. Over the past two days he did the thing that seemed impossible: he went up in the general classification by six positions. And despite that, he felt ambivalent at the finish line. ‘It would probably be unfair to say that I don’t feel unsatisfied with the fourth place. I’m still happy anyway, because completing the Dakar Rally means living your life well. You can’t always win, but you need to have your road up paved. I can see it very well. I’ll win Dakar again, it’s only the question of time and effort that I need to put in,’ he promised.
The six-times winner of the World Cup also joked that as far as he is concerned, the South American marathon could be much longer. ‘The second week of Dakar is always the best week of the year. This is why I think that Dakar should be at least three, or even four weeks long. Our quads get better and better, the mechanics are also better and better, we are more and more experienced, so driving 10,000 km is not as much of a challenge as it had been ten years ago. We come here because we love it, and Dakar Rally is a race for tough guys. This is why I’m happy and I enjoy each day, and I wish there were more.
This year’s Dakar Rally in the quads category was won by Sergey Karyakin. He was accompanied by Ignacio Casale (Chile) and Pablo Copetti (Argentina) at the lower steps of the podium. The Russian rider did not forget to say thanks to Rafał Sonik at the finish line. ‘I came up to him two days ago and I asked him if he has an exhaust to spare, because the two I had didn’t survive the hardships of the rivalry. He didn’t hesitate and gave me the part. And while it didn’t fit and I couldn’t use it, it proves the fair play spirit and the respect that is present among the Dakar Rally riders,’ said the winner of this year’s edition at the finish line, as he received his gift. The Polish rider gave him the t-shirt with the leader’s starting number, bearing the signatures of Rafał Sonik and Ignacio Casale, as a way of giving him the leadership. ‘Next year, you will sign it and keep it – or give it to another participant,’ said Sonik. Karyakin responded by saying: ‘I hope that it’ll be you that I’ll be giving it to.’
At the start of this year’s 39th Dakar Rally, there were 318 competitors, and only 228 of them completed it. In terms of percentage, the quad category was the smallest one at the finish line, because only 22 participants arrived at the finish line in Buenos Aires out of the 37 that began the race. 47 out of 144 bikers and 23 out of 87 car teams failed to complete the race.
General classification of the Dakar Rally 2017:
1. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) 39:18.52
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL) +1:14.51
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) +4:20.19
4. Rafał Sonik (POL) +5:33.29
10. Kamil Wiśniewski (POL) +8:06.09