Last year’s Dakar Rally quads runner-up, Rafal Sonik, is your new leader in the category after winning in Stage 2 on Monday in Argentina.
The Polish racer (pictured, from 2014) followed-up his second-place showing in Sunday’s opening stage with a win over defending Dakar champion Ignacio Casale of Chile by a margin of just over three and a half minutes. From the overall standpoint, that means a lead of two minutes, 26 seconds for Sonik.
Stage 2 from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, Argentina was the longest of the 2015 Dakar at 518 kilometers. Casale said he had to slow down over the final 100 kilometers of the stage, because he was dealing with dehydration after running out of water.
“Today, it was a very difficult stage, the hardest I’ve ridden in my life,” Casale said. “I thought that I was going to drop out. I had a lot of thoughts running around my mind throughout the day…I suffered a lot and didn’t feel great at all. I slowed down my pace over the last 100 km.
“In any case, given the length and toughness of the stage, the aim was to make sure I finished…But I couldn’t do anything more. I was in a really complicated situation. I went and sat in the medical tent for 40 minutes to rest and drink…I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
As for the trucks, the KAMAZ team – winners of a record 12 Dakar Rallies – bounced back from a tough Sunday (none of their entries finished in the Top 5) to get two out of the Top 3 spots on Monday, including P1.
Russian pilot Eduard Nikolaev scored a 46-second win over the Iveco team’s Siarhei Viazovich of Belarus. Ayrat Mardeev put his KAMAZ in third position, just three seconds behind Viazovich.
Hans Stacey, the Stage 1 winner, initially kept hold of the top overall position in the truck category with a fourth-place run in his Iveco. However, he was penalized one minute and was dropped to sixth in Monday’s stage. That means Nikolaev is now leading the pack with a slim lead of 40 seconds over Stacey.