The main goal that Rafał Sonik assumed for the 40th edition of the Dakar Rally, which was also his 10th start in this competition, was to reclaim a place on the podium. After having won 4th place in the Dakar of 2017, the Polish champion chose to renew the collaboration with another quad rider, Kamil Wiśniewski. Although the first few days provided the awaited excitement and shifts among the leading ten, in the end, only the latter of the two Polish racers crossed the finish line. Despite his heroic battle, “SuperSonik” was not able to stay in the competition due to an accident that left him with a broken leg.
After a few-year break, the Dakar Rally had returned to Peru and Peru couldn’t be more ready to host it. During the opening ceremony, thousands of fans poured into the streets to cheer, not discouraged by the early hour. The Dakar town was also packed the day before, welcoming the visitors with awfully long lines.
While the spectators enjoyed watching the race of the machines, the participants found the first few days in the south of the country to be extremely challenging. The terrain was incredibly demanding and unpredictable. Marc Coma was to make navigation still more difficult by limiting the information provided in the roadbooks. Moreover, the changes in the starting order at two of the first stages caused extra complications for quads and bikes since the riders had to face the route that had already been damaged by the preceding cars and trucks.
This very issue turned out to be disastrous for Rafał Sonik on the fifth and last day of his participation. “After passing the neutralization zone, we approached the 58-kilometer stretch of the SS which had been already greatly affected by the cars and trucks,” said Sonik. “The sand by waypoints was extremely loose and boggy. I geared down to climb a sand dune only to notice a 2-meter pit on the other side. I pushed hard on the gas to be able to pass it, but the gear slipped again… and my quad fell right down. With no drive, it just sank into the sand. I didn’t fall or roll but the brunt of the fall affected my left knee. The same knee I had injured during the Sardinia Rally…”
Rafal Sonik suffered from a tibia and fibula fracture. Nevertheless, he managed to finish 450 more kilometers of the road to the bivouac, hoping he would be able to continue the race. However, the results of the preliminary medical examination sent him straight to the hospital in Lima and then to Szczecin, where he underwent a knee surgery performed by Dariusz Larysz and his team. Although the operation was difficult because the fracture was serious, it was successful, leaving a lot of hope for Sonik’s future participation in cross-country raids.
Kamil Wiśniewski succeeded in finishing the 2018 Dakar Rally. Sonik’s quad team partner placed 11th in the general standings and won the unofficial classification of the 4×4 quad category.