The first two CPs should be no more than a formality. They lie along the route to one of the classic challenges of the Rallye: the “cauliflower field”…
This strange desert plant looks like a giant grey-green cauliflower but, in addition to being inedible, is as hard as rock. The Gazelles will need to avoid them or suffer the consequences. In addition, the zone is riddled with oueds of different depths and various levels of difficulty to cross. During the terrain reconnaissance we ended up following a oued for more than 2 kilometres before finding a way out!
The driver will be put to the test: place the wheels with care, press on the gas at just the right moment… But if only that were the only thing to worry about…
In addition to the challenging terrain, this zone requires flawless navigation. There are few clear features, and those are often so far away as to be easily lost in the heat haze. Points of reference will be uncertain at best, and frequently nonexistent.
A good night’s sleep at the bivouac will be more than welcome after a long grueling day, especially since tomorrow’s leg may require some intensive shovelling… But tomorrow is another day!
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.