RALLYE AÏCHA DES GAZELLES DU MAROC 2018
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.
The team reached CP6 yesterday to recharge their batteries and then went back to check off CP5. Encountering some difficulty reaching CP6, they ended up shovelling in the dark. Today they proudly cross the final finish line and we say Bravo for their excellent performance!
“We still have some physical strength in reserve, but we’re losing it here at the finish line. We were so focused, plus the highs and lows with every success or failure… It’s possible to recuperate physically, but not emotionally. There’s an internal pressure, or rhythm, you just can’t escape. ”
This feeling is shared by Team 111 (Catherine OSTERMANN / Sylvie ESPINASSON - Carbel Hydrocurage - Gravier TP): we had never tried navigation or off-road driving before. It was intense, very hard, we never thought it would be so hard. We’re so proud to have made it to the end; we really pushed our limits. We made the most of everything, and we made a super team. I’m sure that will increase our confidence in the future: if you’ve done this rally, you can do absolutely any adventure.”
Team . Several other teams have already reached the bivouac, but not with the full complement of CPs. Bravo to this First Participation team!
The back of the pack is still around CP7X such as 241 (Juliette GERPHAGNON / Marjorine REYDELLET - SMEF AZUR) who are taking their time. Just ahead of them under the hot midday sun, teams 193 (Marie Guillet Wohnlich / Amanda IRELAND - Mécène privé), 245 (Myriam FILALI-MAIN / KARIMA LAAROUSSI - MOUHYI - SIKA), 102 (Elodie SERVIN / Claudia MARTIN), 129 (Sara BENAZOUZ / Sara EL AZZAOUI - Al Ajial Holding) and 187 (Jennifer KALKA / Jessica AUBERT - VULPES ZERDA) approach CP8X. The sand is as soft as flour but they are managing to advance in spite of everything. Team 243 (Schanel Bakkouche / Pauline DUCRUET) are in the same zone and appear to have driven a near-perfect route (apart from a shaky arrival at CP4 yesterday), walking the line between safety with risk taking.
At checkpoint 4ABC, the Gazelles who didn’t opt for Route X through the heart of the dunes still have to deal with sand. They will have to drive north-west across the edge of Chegaga to reach their CP 5. But first, they air down their tires to avoid getting stuck. Teams 112 (Laura GADI / Ida LONCAR) and 190 (Virginie GABRIEL / Anne-Sophie ANDREAS - STDT ; FFdem) chose this route and hope to reach 5 before nightfall.
4×4 Class leaders Team 107 (Stéphanie PERUSSE / Anne-Marie BORG - Bleu Blanc Rouge communication), whose rear axle broke this morning, are still immobilized. The mechanic is attempting to allow them to continue in two-wheel drive, but time is ticking. It’s going to be hard to hit all the day’s checkpoints.
Then you have an upset Team 162 (Nathalie Chassot / Marie-Pascale Quirin - Formule 4 Garage Team). Though it is normal for the end of the Rallye: the shocks have been sorely solicited over all types of terrain. The team collects 200 penalty points. Today’s tally: 6 mechanical interventions. And the day is not over yet…
This time, for Team 177 (Valérie KELLER / Virginie SIRAUD - AC-Environnement Diagnostic Immobilier) for a relay problem, a problem they also had 2 days ago. It shouldn’t take them long to get going, but 200 points heavier. The law of the jungle…
The mechanical assistance team is working on the rear axle of Team 107 (Stéphanie PERUSSE / Anne-Marie BORG - Bleu Blanc Rouge communication) which would allow them to continue in 2-wheel drive. “We can do the Chegaga dunes, no need to be in 4WD. But there’s nothing we can do to make up the 200-point penalty. But we want to finish the leg.”
This marathon morning seems to be serving to screen the teams: Team 310 (Sandrine MARTIAL / Isabelle FAUST - Les tourtons du Champsaur et Classic All Blacks) has also called for mechanical assistance. This will cost them the same as Team 107 (Stéphanie PERUSSE / Anne-Marie BORG - Bleu Blanc Rouge communication), but the stakes are much lower: 107 were at the top of the 4×4 general ranking, while 310 were at the bottom in SUV.
They failed to reach their first checkpoint before it closed at 10 o’clock. Unable to continue, they will be accompanied to the next bivouac by the assistance team.
Team 107 (Stéphanie PERUSSE / Anne-Marie BORG - Bleu Blanc Rouge communication), who were leading the general ranking and in a strong position to win this edition of the Rallye, just launched a call for mechanical assistance, dashing all hopes of a podium. Unless the other teams also require assistance during this final leg… To be continued.
Favourite team 202 (Jeanette JAMES / Emmanuelle TARQUINI DOS SANTOS - Bumper Off Road Jeep) was forced to abandon its straight-heading strategy yesterday afternoon in favour of the trail due to a broken suspension arm. Today, after repairs, they intend to make up for the penalties earned. “The point of the game is to drive in a straight line as much as possible, isn’t it?”
The 4th and final bivouac for the #Gazelles2018 in Foum Zguid will be festive. The final leg of the competition will close with a Star Wars-themed celebration under the brilliant desert stars!
In the meantime, with their habitual efficiency, teams of workers are busy taking down the bivouac. Once again, Live News will be limited while we make the transfer.
Normal, the day is young. But the second marathon is just beginning.
That is certainly the case for teams 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse), leaders of the ranking and 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) now in third position after incurring a penalty for losing their road sheet on a previous leg. A few teams got stuck on the sandy stretch leading to CP1: Team 500 (Elisabeth ROUX / Alexandra ROZLOZNY - ALTIMA PAR MAIF) was towed by 187 (Jennifer KALKA / Jessica AUBERT - VULPES ZERDA), Team 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France) was towed by 186 (Maeva Myriam PONET / Laura SENE - GUADELOUPE LA 1ERE). Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) takes a good run-up and gets through.
At 6 a.m., the teams line up between the wind flags at the start line for the last time, with a mixture of fatigue and eagerness for one last taste of the desert. Their next start line will be on the beach in Essaouira.
Team 246 (Carole MONTILLET / Sylvie GODEAU GELLIE - Vakkorama) is having alternator trouble! Which explains the tracking issues they have been having since Leg 1.
The team cancelled their alert after receiving help from Team 219 (Veronique BEAUDOUX / Carole MINIER - CLEAN 86 et JURICA). They have 2 more checkpoints to reach, which close at 9:00 and 9:30…
Climbing in the general rankings hasn’t gone to the heads of sister team 208 (Brigitte SOBANSKI-JOYEUX / Patricia CAPDEVIELLE - SOPRA STERIA AEROLINE). “We’re going to do our best, but if we have to saw off tree branches to stick to our straight heading; we won’t go that far!”
They stick to their usual strategy this morning: caution is the mother of safety. Straight headings when they can, detours when the vehicle could suffer.
As they eat lunch at 2:45, Team 220 (Delphine Bichoffe / Christine Hunka - BFGoodrich) study the mountain behind which huddles their 5th checkpoint. It lies right on their heading. And is impossible to get across. They will have to adjust their heading and go around it. Because if they can’t get up, they can’t get down.
Stretched out in the dust, Jazmin Grimaldi is studying her front right tire, just after CP2. “It’s no problem. You have to learn quickly at the Gazelles!” And she has already changed a Jeep tire back in Utah. It’s certainly more fun here than on the highway!
Out on the terrain, Team 125 (Dominique CREPIN. GUERIN / Beatrice Mennessier - SA WARLUZEL) shrug their shoulders. They would prefer to know where their checkpoint is hidden. A navigation error cost them more than 20 km. It’s not that they don’t care about their performance, but their immediate concern is to avoid wasting the day driving in circles.
Only 80% charged at 7 o’clock, teams 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France) and 502 (Mélanie MOR / Delphine MIQUEL - ENEDIS) started the leg later than the other teams in electric vehicle class. This will cut into their time to complete the marathon leg. Next battery charging is scheduled for tomorrow.
Tonight at least 7 teams will be sleep where they are, off-bivouac, to resume navigation at daybreak. These include 155 (Isabelle DECOU / Cendrine GABORIN - GROUPE ESCI Cabling & Networks Services), 195 (Ghislaine GILLARD / Solen DE LA MOTTE - Bénéat Chauvel Immobilier), 194 (Celine LEROUX / Maud RAGON - NANT'ESCAPE), 134 (Nadia LARBI / Isabelle ROUSSEAU), 143 (Leila MASSON / Monica OBERLE - Programme Alimentaire Mondial), 179 (Azizan POGET BELAIDI / Azucena CROLLA - Masson &Cie SA) and 189 (Josiane ARENALES / Lyne MOREAU). 3 others may yet make it back: teams 100 (Carole GAUTRON / Myriam MECHRAOUI - EXOTEC Dentaire) on a flatbed, team team=”129″] and 133 (Julie Oudina Blaise / Meredith Grosset - Normandie Chauffage).
After a quiet night camping out near CP7, the Gazelles will continue navigating by light of day.
Rallye favorite Carole Montillet 246 (Carole MONTILLET / Sylvie GODEAU GELLIE - Vakkorama) committed a major blunder around 7 p.m. After missing a trail, she drove an extra 4 km between CP8 and the bivouac. Goes to show the limits of navigating by night.
64 teams have crossed the finish line, accompanied (like every other day since the start of the Rallye!) by strong sandy winds. These include all crossovers except 313 (Solen KERLEROUX / Carine POISSON - RUN FUN / MTECH), all electric vehicles except 313 (Solen KERLEROUX / Carine POISSON - RUN FUN / MTECH), and 4×4 teams 164 (Grazia BLASCO / Evelyne COELHO - TRANSAVIA) and 227 (Anne BATTINI / Myriam BOUKORRAS). None of the top five teams in First Participation or Expert Challenge have yet returned, proof of their determination.
16th in the First Participation general ranking going into this leg, the team of dentists also saw their hopes dashed today. The problem: front right hub assembly and the hub support housing. Unable to be towed, the vehicle will be transported on a flatbed. Unranked.
It’s not very many. Team 22 (Tracy MORANDIN / Valérie ROCHE - MORANDIN Yves) struggled all day with Valérie’s injectors and are tired and frustrated. Their hopes of a podium finish collapsed with today’s two calls for mechanical assistance.
At least at the Rallye Headquarters and for mechanical assistance. Just 6 mechanical interventions so far including 2 for 22 (Tracy MORANDIN / Valérie ROCHE - MORANDIN Yves). Most recently, Team 100 (Carole GAUTRON / Myriam MECHRAOUI - EXOTEC Dentaire) with a broken suspension arm. Emergency repairs with straps will allow them to get back to the bivouac.
Impossible to list them all, but most teams are currently between CP6 and 7. Except, of course, in e-Gazelle Class, some of whom are already at the bivouac including 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) and 500 (Elisabeth ROUX / Alexandra ROZLOZNY - ALTIMA PAR MAIF).
They start too feel it once they reach the bivouac. Stuck in a depression in the dunes after the third checkpoint, Sophie and Stéphanie are back after spending 28 hours in the dunes. Yesterday their Isuzu D-Max had transmission and/or transfer trouble. Impossible to leave the dunes with only 2-wheel drive. The assistance team, busy handling other evacuations, was unable to get them out before nightfall. “We were really happy; everything was going well until CP 3. We’re devastated,” states Stéphanie. “At 5 o’clock, we realized that it was too late for assistance to come. We resigned ourselves to spending the night in the dunes, but we barely slept,” she continues. “It took a long time this morning. And now it’s running, we’re driving it back…” adds Sophie, bursting into tears at the thought of their sponsors’ disappointment. 19th last year in the general ranking, they will continue the competition tomorrow, but Unranked. Now their goal is to make it to Essaouira.
Third request for assistance today by a team who have been really playing the game, as far as carrying their motorbikes across rocky ground to save the tires. More injector trouble at checkpoint 4BEF. An assistance team is on location.
Most teams on routes ABCDE are between CP 5 and 6.
The crossovers are near CP 4
In e-Gazelle Class, Team500 (Elisabeth ROUX / Alexandra ROZLOZNY - ALTIMA PAR MAIF) is still looking for CP 2 and having a hard time of it. Team 504 leads the pack on the trail leading to the bivouac while their challenger, Team 503, has driven a superb route but is now somewhat lost 1 km after the 4th checkpoint.
For the moment, the teams are spread out. The leaders have passed CP 6, while those at the back of the pack are around CP3.
After very good performances since the start of the Rallye, Team 22 (Tracy MORANDIN / Valérie ROCHE - MORANDIN Yves) runs out of luck today: two calls for mechanical assistance with the corresponding penalties. First for an injector clogged with sand. The cause of the second breakdown is under investigation.
… are between CP4 and 5 in 4×4 Class. In e-Gazelle Class, Team 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) just reached their 3rd checkpoint. As predicted, the team was forced to retrace their steps and take the trail. Team 502 (Mélanie MOR / Delphine MIQUEL - ENEDIS) is about to make the same mistake. In fact, there are passes further north-west, but they are hard to see on the map. Team 503, leaders in the provisional ranking, is playing it safe on the trail.
The Franco-Japanese team that flipped over at 4:45 p.m. yesterday are about to start today’s leg. Stéphanie, the navigator, spent the night in the medical tent to get over her post-traumatic stress. The Toyota FJ Cruiser looks a bit like a crushed tin can, but the mechanics replaced the windshield, checked all the mechanical systems and straightened the bodywork here and there. “What happened yesterday affected me but I’m not afraid to continue today. Anyway, we’re Unranked now so we’ll do our best but we’re not going to put pressure on ourselves.” explains Stéphanie.
Rather than taking the easy route, i.e. the trail east of CP2 to reach CP3 (about 2.6 km extra), the team decided to take a straight heading. The only problem is that the pass they are hoping to take through Tizi n’Fguidou is impossible, even in 4×4. They are going to have to retrace their steps and resign themselves to taking the trail.
Their “reverse” button is no longer working. Rather than calling for mechanical assistance, they decide to continue but in a forward gear only, which is, after all, the best way to advance along the route. Not much need for parallel parking in the desert.
Team 158 (Samantha GASMI / Chloé JARAS - ASSYSTEM France) realized their map square error, which ended up costing them 30 km – a lot for the beginning of the leg! If you’re not aiming for performance, it’s not such a big deal. But for Team 177 (Valérie KELLER / Virginie SIRAUD - AC-Environnement Diagnostic Immobilier), 39th in the general ranking yesterday, the consequences could be more detrimental. They just missed their second checkpoint by a mile. Useless kilometres driven: thirty.
The Quebec team spent the night in Oued Rheiris last night on the recommendation of the organization. On reaching the bivouac this morning, the Gazelles are eager to talk about their adventure. After reaching CP4, they hesitated for 2 hours over whether to try the dune. They should have trusted their instinct: when they finally made the attempt, it was successful and they got to CP5. But with all the time wasted, no time for the 3 other checkpoints. And now, no more time to chat: they need to get ready to start today’s leg.
The sky is covered over and an east wind is rising, bringing with it dust and sand. Visibility is reduced, making navigation difficult.
Their Defender 110 is coughing this morning and loses traction on the way to CP 1, where it refuses to start. The driver is on the edge of tears. Mechanical assistance is not optimistic: this model has a large number of electronic components that makes diagnosis difficult.
The teams who spent the night in the central part of the dunes are leaving them towards the east, by far the easiest option. They will need to go around the erg to the south before heading west to the bivouac, which will cost them in kilometres but will be quicker and easier than attempting to head west across the dunes. Teams include 101 (Katia PERROTIN ENCISO / Roselyne NIVOIS - BVI - Bourgogne véhicules industriels IVECO), 190 (Virginie GABRIEL / Anne-Sophie ANDREAS - STDT ; FFdem) and 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE)
The team is driving well, leaving the trail at the right moment to optimize their trajectory. No luck: it’s not the right heading!
Not a great start for 158, 70th in the First Participation ranking: they plotted their checkpoint in the wrong map square and are going to be searching for a while. Bad way to start the day.
Teams who didn’t spend the night stuck in the dunes are heading for CP 1 at a fast pace along a good trail.
12 teams will spend the night in the dunes, in addition to 4 assistance teams assigned to sleep in their sector: 214 (Sophie RENNEQUIN / Liliane PISCAGLIA - CHATEAU D'AX), 101 (Katia PERROTIN ENCISO / Roselyne NIVOIS - BVI - Bourgogne véhicules industriels IVECO), 180 (Dominique PARE / Christine PLOURDE - Club de golf de Montréal), 206 (Jennifer Royer / Elodie Campoy - MERCI à notre Famille), 119 (Fanny VILLEMIN / Muriel Cattaneo), 176 (Françoise BRENCKMANN / Oriane BRENCKMANN - Leduc), 142 (Amélie CRIMETZ ZORDAN / Stephanie MARTINEU - AATHEX), 196 (Isabel Maria GUILHERME DA LUZ / Florence PHILIP - CABINET PHILIP Expertise automobile), 190 (Virginie GABRIEL / Anne-Sophie ANDREAS - STDT ; FFdem), 203 (CHEN YUN ZI / Sophie NAYLOR - AMC Travel), 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE) and 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE)
Team 162 (Nathalie Chassot / Marie-Pascale Quirin - Formule 4 Garage Team) is advancing with difficulty in Oued Rheiris: a real punishment at the end of the day. The Rallye Headquarters strongly advises them to stop and put their tent up before getting into real trouble. All is well now.
Having tried it myself, I know that it is a magical experience. Mais bon… Our transfer case wasn’t broken, which is the case for Team 229 (Sophie LIOUST BARDY / Stéphanie GOURLOO), 140th in the general ranking, and we hadn’t spent hours baking up there since 11 a.m., which must change your perspective a little! At any rate, Sophie, Stéphanie and their Isuzu will not be able to leave the dunes before tomorrow. In the meantime, what else can they do but enjoy this moment that is, after all, a privilege. An assistance team is keeping an eye on them.
We counted our Gazelles scattered across the dunes, and there are still 34 teams, no doubt primarily novices who, given the late hour, must have spent a lot of time shovelling: teams 143 (Leila MASSON / Monica OBERLE - Programme Alimentaire Mondial), 144 (Laurene VOILLEQUIN / Laure AVELINE - Adhome Services), 159 (Céline VOIDE / Gaëlle DUMAUSE - Champagne Tsarine), 120 (Anne-Sophie MEVELLEC / Sophie ROLLAND), 132 (Margot LAMBERT / Aurélie CRAVALLEE - Wonderbox) and 167 (Emmanuelle HONORE / Gaëlle GALLIMARD - SNCF). Good for building strong arms and, above all, unforgettable memories.
62 teams are now faced with a new challenge: find a free shower.
About twenty more are approaching the bivouac.
Whether intentionally (careful or fed up) or unintentionally (mechanical problems), 17 teams have returned to the fold including 109 (Estelle CONTAMIN / Audrey MARQUES - EOZ), 112 (Laura GADI / Ida LONCAR), 26 (Amélie DELACHESNAIS / Emilie CAZAL), 121 (Hanane AMRAOUI / Farah AMRAOUI), 141 (Collette LAPOINTE / Alexandrine BARBEAU-MATHIEU - Le Fabuleux), 147 (Nathalie KOCH / Pascale DALCANTARAT - GROUPEMENT DES MOUSQUETAIRES), 155 (Isabelle DECOU / Cendrine GABORIN - GROUPE ESCI Cabling & Networks Services), 181 (Mathilde ANTOINE THANNER / Stéphanie MARSEAUT - Arnold Kontz Group), 216 (Dounia AIT OUFFELLA / Caroline AROUS - Transports HM) and 312 (Laetitia GIRAUD / Sarah SOURBIER - FRUIT4FIT)
Teams 229 (Sophie LIOUST BARDY / Stéphanie GOURLOO), 24 (Peggy OLIVA / Isabelle SIBI - SSV RACING), ( / ) and 207 (Stéphanie GUERRY / Kaori ISHIBASHI - GBG Assurances) are the only teams currently receiving mechanical assistance. Most will be able to continue after being repaired, but that may be complicated for the Toyota Cruiser…
Naturally, in an electric car without 4-wheel drive, driving in the dunes is as realistic as driving on the moon. But the e-Gazelles route took them along the western edge of the giant erg (sand field) before completing a loop not far from the new bivouac. Progress is uniform with all teams between checkpoints 5 and 6.
And overjoyed: Emilie did the dunes with her mother two years ago and the experience traumatized her a little. This time, victory: she reached all her checkpoints and headed for the bivouac, arms in the air like a champion.
And for good reason… a broken universal joint. Luckily, mechanical assistance had the right model in stock and set to repairing it on the spot.
That was the opinion of Team 310 (Sandrine MARTIAL / Isabelle FAUST - Les tourtons du Champsaur et Classic All Blacks) on reaching the new bivouac in a bad temper. Everything was going fine up to the first checkpoint. Apart from a not-great night. It was at CP2 that everything went downhill. Despite searching intensively for 4 hours, they never found it. The final straw was an exhaust system that was starting to come loose. The team decided to head for the bivouac.
Most of the teams who chose Route X are close to CP5.
Since the start of the leg, there have been 13 calls for mechanical assistances around or in the dunes. 12 of these have been dealt with; only that involving 23 (Valerie WANNEZ / Emmanuelle GIRAUD BUSSAT - EBV FRANCE) is still underway. The morning’s victims include 102 (Elodie SERVIN / Claudia MARTIN) with crankcase trouble, 109 (Estelle CONTAMIN / Audrey MARQUES - EOZ) with a damaged rear axle, 243 (Schanel Bakkouche / Pauline DUCRUET) who we mentioned this morning, 137 (Manuelle GAUTHIER / Sophie SOLON BREUSSE - NOUGATERIE DU PONT D'ARC), and 181 (Mathilde ANTOINE THANNER / Stéphanie MARSEAUT - Arnold Kontz Group).
The team who practically destroyed their front and rear suspension yesterday is clearly unable to take the start of today’s leg. Their Toyota is still in the hands of the mechanics and will be transported by flatbed to the new bivouac, while the Gazelles wait at an inn for the bivouac to be ready to welcome them. They will be able to continue the competition but will be Unranked. Two teams are Unranked so far: 235 (Lorraine SOMMERFELD / Gillian LEMOS - driving.ca) and 222 (Sophie RICHARD / Sarah ES SEDDIQI - Centre Cardiothoracique de Monaco).
Last over the start line is Team 23 (Valerie WANNEZ / Emmanuelle GIRAUD BUSSAT - EBV FRANCE), who missed yesterday’s CP2-cum-refuelling station. That certainly didn’t help them finish their leg, especially as they drove around in circles for a while… Out of gas, mechanical assistance, late-night return to the bivouac… that’s what you call a long, hard day. We miss them a great day in the dunes!
Team 311 (Christelle PERRIN / Lucie FAGEDET) gets into place on the start line. They have a problem: their injector has been loose since they got off the ferry. It will be impossible for them to tackle the dunes. The part has been ordered and will be changed this evening at the next bivouac. To avoid being Unranked, they must cross the start line and then drive carefully to the new bivouac 30 km away, along the road. But it’s going to cost them: they will accumulate penalties for missing every checkpoint on today’s route (Route S) in addition to the kilometres they drive to the next bivouac.
After finding 5 of 8 checkpoints and spending a long time lost in a palm grove, Team 175 (Julia NOVAK BAUBRY / Sophie MERLET - JEANTET) reached the bivouac at midnight last night. They are just crossing the start line after skipping the 4 a.m. wakeup call in order to catch up on some sleep before the dunes. “We’re going to take the “baby” route. In other words Z, the equivalent of a “blue run”.
Jacques Chirac used to say that “Trouble always arrives in squadrons” (or: “It never rains, but it pours”). The same is apparently true of plotting errors: like Team 136 (Ophélie ROUX / Maëva MARTIN), teams 310 (Sandrine MARTIAL / Isabelle FAUST - Les tourtons du Champsaur et Classic All Blacks) and 223 (Christele PIRIOU / Delphine CHAVOT - IMASUD) are happily following the road south.
On leaving the bivouac, 90% of teams choose to take a straight heading to CP1. The other option is to follow the trail and then the road, which would cost 5 extra km but would avoid the tough patch around Oued Nejjakh. There is a small trail across the oued, but it is not shown on the Gazelles’ maps. Only Team 170 (Francine ABGRALL / Suzanne Wadsworth - Europ Assistance) have found it: well spotted!
The problem is not the heading, but the fact that Team 136 (Ophélie ROUX / Maëva MARTIN) plotted their first CP on the wrong square on the map. They know perfectly well where they are going, convinced that CP1 is at the southern tip of the erg (where CP5 is actually located). By the time they realize their mistake, they will have clocked an extra thirty km. Some days are like that…
The first teams crossed the start line as usual at 6 a.m. But today is special. They are setting off to tackle the dunes, and not just any dunes: those of Merzouga, the highest in the Maghreb. For Team 246 (Carole MONTILLET / Sylvie GODEAU GELLIE - Vakkorama) it’s almost like a day at the office: the former Olympic ski champion is on her favourite terrain. But for the less-experienced Gazelles, this day is far from relaxing. This morning’s start was accompanied by a mix of knotted stomachs and excited honking.
11 teams are currently heading for the bivouac including 183 (Brigitte LAM / Marion MARTIN - AD EXPERT - Garage MICHAUD), 187 (Jennifer KALKA / Jessica AUBERT - VULPES ZERDA) and 212 (Cécile FOUILLAND / Florence RONGER - LA CLOISON AMOVIBLE). The furthest teams should be here in about an hour. That is not the case for [ team team=”23″], who are out of gas and will not get back until much later. They are waiting for the assistance team to arrive with fuel.
Most teams have either crossed the finish line or are within the secure zone around the bivouac. Only Team 23 (Valerie WANNEZ / Emmanuelle GIRAUD BUSSAT - EBV FRANCE), who missed CP2 and therefore their refuelling station, is still in the area between checkpoints 3 and 5. They won’t be back in a hurry; nor will Team 239 (Marina GARCÍA-ESCÁMEZ / Hind TANGI - McAfee) who were lost for most of the day.
One of yesterday’s top 20 teams, 104 (Betty SEJOURNE / Sophie GEORGER MENEREAU), had to call for mechanical assistance for damage to their front and rear suspension. The mechanics will have their work cut out for them tonight. In the meantime, the team will receive 200 penalty points.
24 teams have reached the bivouac, including 121 (Hanane AMRAOUI / Farah AMRAOUI), 103 (Sonia AUVITY / Caroline DESSEIGNE - SA AUVITY MERCEDES MOULINS), 24 (Peggy OLIVA / Isabelle SIBI - SSV RACING), 221 (Audrey ROUXEL / Charlotte BOMMELAER - IFRAC), 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) and 209 (Emilie BERGODAA / Leslie MESTRALLET - SYLVESTRE MATERIAUX).
Some twenty other teams are not far behind them.
Some teams are still very far away, including 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE), bringing up the rear in the First Participation ranking, who have not left the area of checkpoints 3 and 4. They are having trouble navigating.
Team 186 (Maeva Myriam PONET / Laura SENE - GUADELOUPE LA 1ERE) is heading too far east and approaching the Algerian border. The Rallye Headquarters contacted them and asked them to turn around and head west. Same thing for Team 111 (Catherine OSTERMANN / Sylvie ESPINASSON - Carbel Hydrocurage - Gravier TP), but in a north/south direction.
After reaching checkpoints 1 and 2, the team has been driving in circles, clearly lost as they search for CP3: they are currently in the sand and unable to get out.
Ten teams have reached CP 7, while eight more are heading that way.
Mishap with heavy consequences for our Monaco nurses. A hand brake insufficiently engaged while taking a heading, a slope, a oued… Result: damaged suspension arm and radiator. It is transported back to the bivouac on a flatbed and the mechanics will see what they can do enable them to continue the competition.
Team 134 (Nadia LARBI / Isabelle ROUSSEAU) is working in the wrong square of the map: instead of going towards their 3rd checkpoint to the south, they are heading north. The very recognizable Rharouchane mountain to the west should be a sign that something is wrong, as it should be behind them, but they don’t seem to have realized their mistake.
Valérie and Emmanuelle of Team 23 (Valerie WANNEZ / Emmanuelle GIRAUD BUSSAT - EBV FRANCE) missed their second checkpoint and appear a little lost. Unfortunately, the refuelling station for Quad Class is at CP 2.
The team has deviated from its heading and is in a patch of difficult terrain.
… all is going smoothly: no calls for assistance. Team 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France), last across the start line this morning because of battery charging, has not yet reached the first checkpoint. Team 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré), winners of yesterday’s leg, are playing it safe by taking the trail to reach their second CP, unlike 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) appear determined to make up the 2.8 km separating the two teams. They are heading straight towards the checkpoint across some tough terrain.
Most teams are somewhere on the vicinity of CP 3. Some are progressing quickly and have already validated their 5th checkpoint, such as 141 (Collette LAPOINTE / Alexandrine BARBEAU-MATHIEU - Le Fabuleux) , and 193 (Marie Guillet Wohnlich / Amanda IRELAND - Mécène privé) on Route B/C/S. 3 teams are currently at CP 5A/D: teams 110 (Dounia BENNANI / Carole MARSAULT DELHAYE - MyOpla), 114 (Sonia BARDEN / Delphine VANMALDER - Team Asset Managment) and 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - VAL THORENS/VALTHOPARC) who finished 3rd in yesterday’s leg.
Yesterday’s first and second place teams, 102 (Elodie SERVIN / Claudia MARTIN) and 130 (Laurence MICHELET / Isabelle BURRI - PHENE IMPORTATION SA) respectively, separated by only 230 metres after a leg of more than 100 km, are neck and neck. The competition will be tight between them.
E-Gazelle Class started at 9:30 this morning on their special “G” route. 4 teams crossed the start line, with 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France) expected to start at 11:30 after fully charging their battery.
Most teams are approaching CP 2. A steady flow for now, with no mechanical alerts. But this part of the route is along trails and paved road: hard to get lost or stuck.
We just wrote that today’s route poses no difficulties before the second checkpoint. However, some teams headed north on the road rather than west: teams 186 (Maeva Myriam PONET / Laura SENE - GUADELOUPE LA 1ERE), 235 (Lorraine SOMMERFELD / Gillian LEMOS - driving.ca), team team=”205″] and 166 (Stephanie PIERI-CHESNAIS / Isabelle AVIS - TRANSAVIA). They will log extra km that could easily have been avoided. Fatigue being felt already?
After a 6 a.m. send-off by Dominique Serra, the teams are heading for their first checkpoint. No difficulties expected until after the second checkpoint. The day begins along the road before tackling a plateau where the trouble begins in the form of “cauliflowers”, bushes as hard as rock, which are sure to give the teams a hard time.
…and the sandstorm, which is once again blowing over the Erfoud region. Not easy to find your bearings. Team 106 (Céline ROGUÉ / Sandrine VERMEILLE - Association Nationale des Femmes de Militaires (ANFEM)), who had a tough time this afternoon, are returning via a series of dunes through which a trail leads, as is Team 180 (Dominique PARE / Christine PLOURDE - Club de golf de Montréal). Team 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE) is being assisted by the mechanics. There are 14 teams off-bivouac who should reach the bivouac within an hour.
Team 103 (Sonia AUVITY / Caroline DESSEIGNE - SA AUVITY MERCEDES MOULINS) has elected to spend the night right where they are, some 25 km from the bivouac, rather than trying to find their way at night in the sandstorm. They will head back tomorrow morning and will not be penalized. A wise decision, as they will be surveyed by a team of organizers and Rallye Headquarters.
Some thirty teams are still out on the terrain, most of them around CP 6. The furthest are 20 km from the bivouac, such as 174 (Sandrine PRONIER-CORDIER / Anne-Lucile DELAFOSSE - Mac Donald's Deauville), 179 (Azizan POGET BELAIDI / Azucena CROLLA - Masson &Cie SA), 186 (Maeva Myriam PONET / Laura SENE - GUADELOUPE LA 1ERE), 206 (Jennifer Royer / Elodie Campoy - MERCI à notre Famille), 216 (Dounia AIT OUFFELLA / Caroline AROUS - Transports HM), 136 (Ophélie ROUX / Maëva MARTIN), 103 (Sonia AUVITY / Caroline DESSEIGNE - SA AUVITY MERCEDES MOULINS) and 122 (Samantha JACQUEMIN / Véronique MEUNIER - ORPEA GROUPE).
L’équipage 106 (Céline ROGUÉ / Sandrine VERMEILLE - Association Nationale des Femmes de Militaires (ANFEM)) est complètement perdu. Alerte mécanique.
Such was the case for Team 105 (Mathilde HOREL / Astrid MEUNIER), perched on a dune and afraid to move for fear of sinking in deeper. Mechanical assistance helped send them back on their way.
The same digits backwards gives Team 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France), who have also just called for mechanical assistance: the assistance team is on the way.
The Gazelles have been out on the terrain for 11 hours. They are starting to converge on the bivouac. Rather than arriving in dribs and drabs, there is action at the finish line! Veteran team 208 (Brigitte SOBANSKI-JOYEUX / Patricia CAPDEVIELLE - SOPRA STERIA AEROLINE), a favourite for a top-ten finish; Team 151 (Anne WITTORSKI / Marie CHAMPAGNON - Groupe JENOME); dental surgeon/orthodontist team 100 (Carole GAUTRON / Myriam MECHRAOUI - EXOTEC Dentaire); Swiss team 193 (Marie Guillet Wohnlich / Amanda IRELAND - Mécène privé); US pro rally team 149 (Keanna ERICKSON-CHANG / Claudia BARBERA-PULLEN); Team 127 (Catherine ZAKEL / Nell BONNET), nurse/childcare worker team 171 (Bernadette TAVARES / Julie CERISEL - GARAGE TAVARES)… Upwards of twenty more teams have validated CP7 and are heading for the bivouac.
A slight shift in heading to reach the 5th checkpoint, a few minor setbacks here and there… None of which takes anything away from the excellent performance of team 22 (Tracy MORANDIN / Valérie ROCHE - MORANDIN Yves). Almost perfect straight lines. They have left their 6th checkpoint and are heading north to CP7.
About twenty teams have handed in their road sheets and taken their vehicles to the mechanics. These include teams 146 (Caroline ZOSSO / Peggy VOGEL - ZZKUSTOM), 110 (Dounia BENNANI / Carole MARSAULT DELHAYE - MyOpla), 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) and 164 (Grazia BLASCO / Evelyne COELHO - TRANSAVIA). Some thirty teams are between CP 5 and 6, while the back of the pack is between CP 3 and 4.
…who have a problem with a radiator hose. The mechanical assistance team is working on their vehicle now.
Team 158 (Samantha GASMI / Chloé JARAS - ASSYSTEM France), who reached the bivouac directly from Tanger this morning, faced quite a challenge: reach the first checkpoint before it closed at 1 o’clock. Unfortunately, the terrain decided otherwise. Time was against them: instead of taking the easy (but longer) way by trail, the Gazelles attempted to head straight across a bank of sand but got stuck 5 times. They will be starting their Rallye with a hefty penalty.
Team 164 (Grazia BLASCO / Evelyne COELHO - TRANSAVIA) have been circling around their first checkpoint since early this morning. They even passed within 250 metres of it without seeing it. When CP1 closed at 1 p.m., the Gazelles had no choice but to return to the bivouac. But they remain optimistic: things can only be better tomorrow. Team 235 (Lorraine SOMMERFELD / Gillian LEMOS - driving.ca) arrived 15 minutes later with the first 2 checkpoints in hand.
Nothing surprising about the routes of teams 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - VAL THORENS/VALTHOPARC) and 202 (Jeanette JAMES / Emmanuelle TARQUINI DOS SANTOS - Bumper Off Road Jeep): straight lines all the way. Impeccable. The same goes for 153 (Fabienne GALIDIE / Tania LIO-MARTINEZ - MM-EVENTS Sàrl) who are also giving an outstanding performance. These veteran Gazelles have honed navigation and driving to a real art form.
Team 244 (Houda KHALOUFI / Nadia ATLASSI - Musée National Marocain Des Automobiles) is following a strange route that appears to defy all logic. The seem to be completely lost and unable to get their bearings. No checkpoints reached so far.
The twenty leading teams are around CP3. Another twenty-odd vehicles are between CP1 and 2. Most teams are heading for CP 2.
The Gazelles have a tricky stretch of mini-dunes to cross in Erg Moulay Amar, between CP1 and 2, unless they find the track across it. Some teams are struggling, including 227 (Anne BATTINI / Myriam BOUKORRAS) and 135 (Lucile CAPRON HAUDIQUER / Sophie DUVAL DUSSAUX - LDA) who are stuck and just called for mechanical assistance.
Team 158 (Samantha GASMI / Chloé JARAS - ASSYSTEM France) has just reached the bivouac after being forced to change a cylinder head gasket in Tanger. Tired but happy to be able to start Leg 1 before noon, after which time they would have been Unranked. They have 2 hours to fill their tank, prepare the car and their maps, and find CP1, where they will receive the road book for the rest of the leg. Doable, but it won’t be easy.
No heading errors, steady progress (1st CP checked off at 6:55, 2nd at 7:55)… the day has started well for Team 242 (Elodie BAUDIN / Julie KOHLMANN - Bee-Bee Automotive) who made a wise choice in plotting their route to CP3, which is now 9 km away.
Navigation can be a tricky business. A moment of inattention, and before long you are completely lost. Such is the case for Team 244 (Houda KHALOUFI / Nadia ATLASSI - Musée National Marocain Des Automobiles) who started out on the wrong route. Logically, on finding themselves at the wrong checkpoint, whose coordinates they know, they should have plotted a new heading to their own checkpoint. But no – they kept going. And are becoming increasingly lost.
Most teams are between checkpoints 1 and 2 of the different routes. 4 vehicles are still between the Nejjak oued and CP 1. The head of the pack is approaching CP2. In Crossover Class, teams 311 (Christelle PERRIN / Lucie FAGEDET) and 313 (Solen KERLEROUX / Carine POISSON - RUN FUN / MTECH) just reached CP2.
That is a question one could ask Team 117 (Wanda MELIN / Nathalie ANDRIANASOLO - Centres E. LECLERC), who are tackling the stretch of sand at the edge of the famous Merzouga dunes. It’s too early for that! They have clearly made a navigation error, probably working in the wrong square on the map. After missing their first CP by 400 metres, they headed straight for the dunes… adding a lot of extra kilometres to the odometer.
On this chilly morning, shovelling is a good way for the Gazelles to warm up. However, team 232 (Adeline BOURNISIEN / Anna LE REST - VINCI Facilities) ended up requesting assistance after getting stuck, which will cost them 200 penalty points.
Team 500 (Elisabeth ROUX / Alexandra ROZLOZNY - ALTIMA PAR MAIF) is currently heading for CP 1. E-Gazelle teams have two possible strategies for reaching this first CP. Team 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) are playing it safe by following the road to Dar Kaoua to reach the trail south towards CP 1. This option will save them time and be easier on the vehicle. Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) also followed the road but cut south earlier to save on mileage. They now find themselves in some sand… Time will tell if they made a good choice. Team 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France) left the bivouac not long ago after mechanical repairs.
Les Gazelles are advancing steadily. Teams 143 (Leila MASSON / Monica OBERLE - Programme Alimentaire Mondial), 171 (Bernadette TAVARES / Julie CERISEL - GARAGE TAVARES), 187 (Jennifer KALKA / Jessica AUBERT - VULPES ZERDA) and 242 (Elodie BAUDIN / Julie KOHLMANN - Bee-Bee Automotive) are at the first checkpoint of Route D. Twenty-odd teams are heading for CP2.
More than two-thirds of the teams are heading for the first checkpoint along their respective routes. The first teams across the start line this morning were the leaders of yesterday’s Prologue, such as two-time podium winners Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - VAL THORENS/VALTHOPARC), who turned in the best performance yesterday.
At 6 o’clock sharp, the first Gazelles roared off after a wave of the flag by Oussama Errafrafri, ‘major accounts’ manager at Afriquia, the Rallye’s official fuel supplier. Today’s leg has an ideal distance of 117 km with 7 checkpoints to find, which should take the Gazelles just under 9 hours. However, given yesterday’s experience, it may take them a lot longer than that…
Only one team has not reached the bivouac (apart from 158 (Samantha GASMI / Chloé JARAS - ASSYSTEM France) who are arriving tomorrow). Team 501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France), accompanied by mechanical assistance, is about half an hour or 12 km from the bivouac. They had a problem with their steering tie-rod.
Team 158 (Samantha GASMI / Chloé JARAS - ASSYSTEM France) is still en route to the bivouac after being repaired in Tanger. But the organization, erring on the side of caution, advised them not to take the icy Asrou pass at the end of the afternoon. The team will stay in the ranking if it reaches the bivouac and starts Leg 1 before noon tomorrow.
Team 215 (Christine BOUVEROT-REYMOND / Emma GALPIN - Allians Taxi) just got stuck on a rock. The mechanical assistance team is on its way to help them s well as Team 141 (Collette LAPOINTE / Alexandrine BARBEAU-MATHIEU - Le Fabuleux), who are 5 km from the bivouac. Requests for assistance are increasing as it gets dark.
Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse), the Franco-Swiss doctor team, have a problem with their tow hitch, making it difficult for the assistance team to help them. They are 8 km north-east of the bivouac.
Night has fallen. Some Gazelles found the day tough, such as the driver of Team 131 (Sandrine LANG / Susanne RIEL - EST ENTRETIEN ETANCHEITE), “I was afraid of everything, it was hard today”.
About 70 teams are back at the bivouac. Thirty-odd teams, including 177 (Valérie KELLER / Virginie SIRAUD - AC-Environnement Diagnostic Immobilier), 199 (Clotilde VIET / Alexia NEVEU - leboncoin), 107 (Stéphanie PERUSSE / Anne-Marie BORG - Bleu Blanc Rouge communication), 145 (Sophie CHALLET / Delphine POHARDY), 129 (Sara BENAZOUZ / Sara EL AZZAOUI - Al Ajial Holding), 209 (Emilie BERGODAA / Leslie MESTRALLET - SYLVESTRE MATERIAUX), 172 (Martine DUPESSEY / Carole DUPESSEY - Dupessey & Co) and 235 (Lorraine SOMMERFELD / Gillian LEMOS - driving.ca) are heading for the bivouac.
There have been 8 calls for mechanical assistance since the start of the Prologue, all for vehicles stuck in the sand.
Today’s leg was estimated at just under two hours, but few competitors have made it back to the bivouac so far. Only Team 22 (Tracy MORANDIN / Valérie ROCHE - MORANDIN Yves) is back with 3 checkpoints in their pocket, looking forward to a good shower before the others arrive. Team 20 (Marie CRETIEN DESPAGNE / Céline AUGUGLIARO - DIEDIS) is in the sand, 1 km from the bivouac. Team 311 (Christelle PERRIN / Lucie FAGEDET), head of the pack in Crossover Class, is approaching the bivouac after a solid performance for a novice team.
Most teams are near CP2.
You won’t get any argument from Team 237 (Marie-laure PONDEVY / Nathalie CASANOVA - FEC FRANCE). These novice Gazelles are having a hard time today: after making a large heading error on leaving the bivouac and driving in circles, they are still looking for their first checkpoint.
Team 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Jazmin GRIMALDI - Saint Honoré) is already approaching their 3rd checkpoint, after a slight error but a precise route. Between CP2 and CP3, the e-Gazelles have two possible options. Some e-Gazelles (501 (Valerie ROMANN / Carine DECRAENE - ACER France) and 500 (Elisabeth ROUX / Alexandra ROZLOZNY - ALTIMA PAR MAIF)) have chosen to stick to a straight heading even though it means driving through sand, a risky venture. On the other hand, teams 502 (Mélanie MOR / Delphine MIQUEL - ENEDIS) and 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) opted for a slightly longer route via the trail around the sand. They are heading for their third checkpoint.
Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) has made a serious error in judgement: they are not following the correct route, Route G. A classic mistake: nothing looks more like a checkpoint than another checkpoint! Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY / Clothilde HAMION - Crédit Suisse) just called for mechanical assistance, which is a good chance to explain one of the sporting regulations: while terrain mechanical assistance is worth a penalty of 200 km, today this penalty doesn’t count as the rankings only begin tomorrow. However, they will be indirectly penalized by starting at the back of the pack tomorrow, with close to an hour less to complete tomorrow’s route.
Team 133 (Julie Oudina Blaise / Meredith Grosset - Normandie Chauffage) just called for mechanical assistance just 1.5 km north-east of the bivouac. They appear to be stuck in the middle of a small sand bar. Teams 182 (Alexandrine ANDRE / Amandine VIROULAUD - Beam Suntory) and172 (Martine DUPESSEY / Carole DUPESSEY - Dupessey & Co) have also pushed the green button for assistance.
There is a feeling of festivity at the start line, in addition to a few existential questions: “Where am I going?” “What am I going to do wrong?” Nothing could be more normal: the Prologue is designed as a life-sized training exercise. A short 44-km route with 3 checkpoints, whose results do not count towards the rankings. The true competition begins tomorrow. Team 162 (Nathalie Chassot / Marie-Pascale Quirin - Formule 4 Garage Team) and Team [ team team=”158″] are already undergoing repairs along the route to the Rallye. They are expected to arrive tonight and will have to start directly with Leg 1. As a result, they will be the last teams over the start line tomorrow, giving them less time to reach all their checkpoints. While the Prologue doesn’t affect the rankings, it does determine tomorrow’s starting order. Today’s top teams will be the first to start tomorrow.
The last teams, including 222 (Sophie RICHARD / Sarah ES SEDDIQI - Centre Cardiothoracique de Monaco) have just crossed the start line. It takes about one hour for 163 teams to cross the start line in lines of 5 at 2-minute intervals. Blond and smiling, the driver appears both excited and apprehensive. With an almost embarrassed shrug, she calls herself an “academic”. “We’re going to do everything they told us to do at the navigation training. I hope it works!” The Prologue is the perfect opportunity for self-evaluation. That is what the organizers keep telling the more nervous teams such as novices 194 (Celine LEROUX / Maud RAGON - NANT'ESCAPE). What with finding the bivouac, carrying out the various competition procedures, and all the things to be done this evening like handing in their telephones (bye-bye friends and family!), taking the vehicle to the mechanics or the closed parking area and getting ready for their first night of camping, there is a lot to integrate in just a short time.
Time for a few final adjustments, for the Gazelles and organizers alike. Radio link? Check! Verification that today’s CPs are in place? Check! All stickers all in place? Check! Iritrack systems functional? Check! For the Gazelles, it’s the right time to realize that they are missing a compass… There are always countless details and issues to deal with behind the scenes. Nothing is ever easy in the desert! But the amazing thing is that, when it comes time to start, everything will come together, thanks to the skills and dedication of some 300 organizers… And every leg will have its share of unexpected issues to deal with or anticipate, of which the Gazelles won’t even be aware: they will have enough to do with navigating!
23 teams are currently undergoing their verifications at Hotel Xaluca, Erfoud.
The official send-off started at 3:00 p.m. on the dot, ending around 3:30. The Gazelles are now headed for Sète where they will catch the ferry to Tanger, Morocco!
Rain has set in over the Start Village. First impact: the donations delivery has been moved ahead to allow the Gazelles to stay out of the rain. Good luck!
The OGC Nice press room has been converted into a meeting hall for today’s final event: the Competition Briefing of the 28th Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc.
Close to 150 women are currently attending an information meeting at the Riviera Alliance. The purpose of the meeting is to give these future Gazelles the tools to take part in the 29th edition of the world’s most famous women’s rally in March 2019.
Most teams have finished and are ready for the next step… The last group arrived at 12:15 and are in the middle of their verifications. Next on the agenda: the Competition Briefing at 5:30.
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