There is not always a happy ending when it comes to the Dakar, as Polish rider Pawel Stasiaczek knows only too well. In 2015, he and close friend Michal Henrik lined up on the rally for the first time, but tragedy struck, with Michal dying of heat exhaustion on the third stage. A distraught Pawel withdrew from the race but vowed to return, to fulfil the dream that he and Michal shared of reaching the finishing line. He did so a year ago, finishing 81st and - in his own words - "closing that chapter" of his life. Having paid tribute to Michal's memory, Pawel returns in 2018 hoping to build on an encouraging 2017, during which he managed impressive finishes in Abu Dhabi and Morocco. The 45-year-old is once again part of the ambitious Poland-based Duust Rally Team - an official satellite team of Red Bull KTM Factory - but as far as he is concerned, the Dakar is above all a human adventure, and he is always happy to stop and help out a fellow rider in trouble.
“This year I am starting without any emotional burdens, except perhaps for the promise I made to my family that I will come back in one piece! It has been a year of constant progress for me. I successfully finished Dakar 2017, took part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and finished with a very positive run at the OiLibya Rally of Morocco. I want to ride with the same kind of pace that I had in Morocco, where I finished 20th. If I don't make too many navigational mistakes and avoid any unexpected difficulties, the result should take care of itself. It's a very long race. For people like me, amateur sportsmen, it's a huge challenge - a great adventure and an enormous sporting experience. During last year's Dakar I helped other competitors many times, and to me that is the essence of the rally. I hope there will be a lot of participants that I can count on.”
DUUST RALLY TEAM
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