After the prologue, the Rallye begins in earnest.
Our Gazelles have their first wakeup call at 4 a.m., first briefing at 5 a.m. At 6 a.m., the fun begins… And this time every extra kilometre counts.
There are 7 checkpoints on today’s itinerary.
The playing field is wide and flat, but the first difficulties will slow the competitors down. Under the watchful eye of Amada du Guir on one side and the monumental Erg Chebbi on the other, the Gazelles will make their way across wide plains and low hills, and get their first taste of sand.
That is not to say that they will have an easy time of it.
It’s a good bet that the first problems – navigation or driving errors, vehicles stuck in the sand – will occur before the sun is high in the sky.
This is a land of brilliant light from morning to night, where landmarks are easily lost among the colours that constantly shift from one minute to the next.
Today’s goal is simple: continue to learn how to read the terrain and gauge the vehicle’s capabilities… without getting lost and dashing all hopes of a podium finish!
The last three teams to reach the bivouac are on the finish line: 144 (Laurene VOILLEQUIN / Laure AVELINE - Adhome Services), 143 (Leila MASSON / Monica OBERLE - Programme Alimentaire Mondial) and 166 (Stephanie PIERI-CHESNAIS / Isabelle AVIS - TRANSAVIA). They still need to hand in their road sheet and tracking devices... But a glass of Tsarine champagne is waiting for them!
The stretch from the dunes to the bivouac offers easy navigation and driving. There are even several trails leading to the bivouac.
That’s how Team 178 (Marie GUARINO / Giliane STORRER - MERSE-TRANSAC) described their feelings at the finish line, in front of the Ranking office. "We’re happy it’s over but it’s really strange to say that this is the last time we’ll be handing in our road sheet. We’re proud to have found every checkpoint of the Rallye. At first we didn’t think we could do it, but we got into it because we’re pretty competitive."
We're starting to have a good idea of who will be on the podium but aren't saying anything... we'll let you make your own predictions!
...and honking horns: it feels like the end of the Rallye! Many teams have crossed the finish line before a crowd of photographers and cameramen. Tears, laughter, emotions, arms waving triumphantly... they are all proud of what they have accomplished. Just making it to the finish line is a exploit in itself.