In 2012, the FIM World Cup in cross country quads was for the most part marked with the competition between of two Poles. Rafał Sonik and Łukasz Łaskawiec shone from the courses of the desert, through trenchant thickets to the Sardinian rocks, and the fight they fought during the last leg in Egypt will undoubtedly pass into the history of Polish motor sports.
For Rafał Sonik, racing did not start on the right foot. On one of the dunes during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, he and his quad made a front flip and it was not certain whether the driver or his machine could continue the competition. Luckily, the mechanics and physiotherapists did well and made it possible for the Pole to reach for the highest aims.
Having ranked eighth in the United Arab Emirates and after a super victory in Qatar, Rafał Sonik took the lead in the general classification. He had to, however, surrender it to Łukasz Łaskawiec just after the Sardinia Rally. Just one point separated the Polish quad riders, so their duel promised to be exciting.
And so it was. Competing in an unfriendly terrain, the two were just seconds apart on the finish line of consecutive special legs. In the end, it was Łukasz Łaskawiec who managed to work out an advantage and reached for the World Cup. Second place waited for Rafał Sonik and for him it was a significant achievement.
It’s been a great day. Poles rule the motor world; in the quad category, we are unbeatable,
– said overjoyed Sonik and added that he intended to reclaim the trophy, which he had already won once in 2010, the following year.
For Rafał Sonik, the 2012 season was marked with adventures. Apart from the already mentioned front flip in Abu Dhabi, in Sardinia he miraculously escaped a collision with an oncoming motorcycle rider and falling over a precipice. In Egypt, Łukasz Łaskawiec drove his quad straight into Sonik’s back. Luckily, all these adventures ended well and did not prevent the Polish driver to get a good final result.
Traditionally, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge opened the FIM World Cup cross country competitions. The United Arab Emirates’ inhospitable deserts welcomed the world’s leaders of racing in the most difficult possible conditions. Rafał Sonik was one of the favourites in the quad group but already in the first leg he had to face the unfavourable luck.
The World Cup 2010 winner was one of the better competitors during the time trial. This meant, however, that he would have to blaze the trail on the first special leg of the rally, which is always a great challenge and this time it turned out insidious.
My quad and I did a front flip. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we landed separately and my quad suffered the most. To fix it, we needed a whole arsenal of spare parts and a lot of time,
– said Sonik after the crash.<>/p
Working all night, the mechanics manager to ‘resuscitate’ the quad and the leading rally driver could continue on the course. Despite a huge time penalty, with his consistency and calm, assertive driving, Sonik earned eighth place in the rally’s general classification. That meant that he cannot be ruled out from competing for the World Cup as three more rounds were still ahead of the competitors.
The Abu Dhabi Rally’s dust had not settled before the competitors were already in the neighbouring Qatar. Rafał Sonik could still feel the effects of the front flip he had made in the previous round of the World Cup. And yet, he did enter the competition… and won.
His greatest competitor in the Qatar deserts was the leader of the general classification Obaid Al-Kitbe. In a diverse, treacherous terrain, full of pitfalls, it was the experience and composure which turned out to be crucial. Many competitors pushed for speed, putting all their eggs into one basket, and almost all were disappointed.
Rafał Sonik was driving very cautiously, not fighting to win individual legs but collecting valuable seconds step by step. Only on the last day he charged forward and thanks to this won the whole stake.
I won a leg, I won the rally, and most importantly I took the lead in the World Cup classification. Such a three-in-one! What a fantastic day!
– he said on the finish line.
In Qatar, Łukasz Łaskawiec also presented his good side, thanks to which two Poles were in the lead. It was then that for the first time voices were heard saying that Poles could compete against each other for the final victory.
Riding on sandy dunes and full of Sharp rocks deserts turns out to be pleasure when one ventures out into the unbeaten paths of Sardinia. In the third round of the FIM World Cup, Rafał Sonik again showed his strong side and ended the race third, just behind his countryman Łukasz Łaskawiec.
The special legs of the World Cup’s Italian round are marked out with motorbike riders in mind. For quad riders, the courses always pose lots of problems. Furthermore, one has to navigate carefully because the rally’s course meanders between ravines, gorges, rocks and deep precipices. During the second special leg, Rafał Sonik brushed against a deadly danger.
I rode at high speed down the hill along a rock shelf when suddenly a motorcycle appeared going against traffic. We were just centimeters apart. Had we touched, very likely I would have fallen down into the precipice and that would have been a really ghastly accident,
– said the Polish driver.
Fortunately, the whole adventure ended well. Rafał Sonik continued racing and every now and then swapped leadership with Łukasz Łaskawiec to come to the finish line second and move up in the World Cup general classification to second rank with just one place behind his fellow countryman. This heralded an exciting competition before the Pharaohs’ Rally.
In the Pharaohs’ Rally, the Deal was simple: the Pole who crosses the finish line first before his fellow countryman wins the World Cup. During the entire course, Rafał Sonik and Łukasz Łaskawiec drove neck and neck. In the last legs, they were just seconds apart and in the end it was the pupil who was faster than his master.
The special legs in Egypt were long and exhausting. The competition was also taking place on exceptionally unfriendly soil, full of sharp rocks and treacherous places. In excellent shape, Rafał Sonik managed perfectly well up to the moment when his direct competitor… literally drove onto his back. On one of the few sandy sections, leading at the time, Rafał Sonik had to suddenly turn to avoid a hollow between two dunes. Riding right behind him, Łukasz Łaskawiec did not manage to copy his older colleague’s manoeuvre and rushed downhill straight into his countryman.
Suddenly, I felt that something was jumping onto me from the left and it was Łukasz with his quad. We bumped against each other, were rolling for a while to spend a good few minutes picking ourselves up from the ground and fix the damages. Unfortunately, in my case not only the navigation got damaged but also the frame which cracked and driving for the next 250 kilometres was not easy,
– related the winner of the World Cup 2010, who due to the crash had lost a few seconds to his opponent and countryman and was unable to level the loss.
Rafał Sonik ended the Pharaohs’ Rally and the entire World Cup ranking second.
It’s been a fantastic, historic day. Poles rule the motor world; in the quad category, we are unbeatable,
– said the overjoyed senior and more experienced of the two Poles