UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF HIS MAJESTY KING MOHAMMED VI
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THE ORIGINAL
UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF HIS MAJESTY KING MOHAMMED VI
LIVE NEWS2019-03-21T07:44:54+02:00

LIVE NEWS

RALLYE AÏCHA DES GAZELLES DU MAROC 2019

LEG 6 – MARATHON

OULAD DRISS – FOUMZGUID

LEG 6 – MARATHON

OULAD DRISS – FOUMZGUID

CHECKPOINTS 11

IDEAL KM 220km

ESTIMATED 16h45

TERRAIN barcans, sandy areas (Erg Chegaga), dry lake and great reliefs

Marathon legs are like trains … there may be a second one hidden behind the first.
With barely time to catch their breath, the Gazelles set off for the final marathon leg.

This region known as CHEGAGA features sand, hills Djebel Bani, Oued Draa … and public enemy number 1, strong winds! Navigation is already a challenge here, and uncooperative weather just makes things worse.

In addition to poor visibility, there is an endless stretch of small dunes. Impossible to stick to a heading… up, down, up, down… for kilometres on end… Or hours on end, as distance is measured in time rather than kilometres. The navigators will have to keep a sharp eye out for features that appear and disappear as they drive up and down… It’s their only hope of keeping their heading, but if the wind rises, they will have to resort to dead reckoning… like on the open sea!

The strongest teams will tackle the dunes towards the end of this first day. Chegaga is less impressive than Merzouga, but you shouldn’t trust appearances alone. The feeling of “surfing” the dunes could quickly be slowed down by an unstable or more exposed dune. And the wind has also done its best to complicate the lives of our Gazelles.

In any case, this will be their last night alone among Gazelle in the muffled calm of the dunes.

The following morning, the goal will be to get out of the sand. Whichever route they choose, the Gazelles will have to cross the Erg, a relatively difficult task. There is no time to be wasted getting stuck in the sand… it would be a pity to mess things up so close to the end.

Once they have exited the sandy hills of Chegaga, the Gazelles will head for the last bivouac. But not in a straight line: that would be too easy. Challenges include Lake IRIQUI and its baseless mountain, dinosaur crests and impassable passes, the cliffs of M’daouer jealously guarded by its Sumerian soldier… And they reach the final bivouac, an emotional moment filled with pride, joy and a touch of regret… that the adventure is already over.

One last night at the bivouac before tomorrow’s long drive to the coast where another world awaits…

CHECKPOINTS 11

IDEAL KM 220km

ESTIMATED 16h45

TERRAIN barcans, sandy areas (Erg Chegaga), dry lake and great reliefs

The last Gazelles have just reached the bivouac and will be able to enjoy a last evening in the desert.
8 p.m.: let the party begin! 8 teams are still out in the desert.
Rush hour at the finish line! The Gazelles are arriving one after the other, huge smiles on their faces!
On the finish line, Rallye regular Catherine of Team 20 (Catherine KERAMIDAS / Alexandra CHAPUIS - EIFFAGE - CBA) can't hide her pleasure!
The Gazelles have just broken down... 4 km from the finish line! They may have to call for mechanical assistance and accept a penalty.
54 teams have crossed the finish line.
Bad news for the Gazelles of Team 202 (Virginie DUEDAL / Fabienne GALIDIE - FRANCE ENVIRONNEMENT), fourth in the general ranking, who have just called for mechanical assistance just before CP10. This call will cost them in penalty points... and places in the ranking.
One would think that the Gazelles of Team 149 (Jessica VANAKER / Micheline DELAUNAY - CLAAS FRANCE) wanted to complicate their lives one last time...
Teams 131, 164, and 220 have gone around the erg to the north and are lagging behind...
The Gazelles signal their joy at reaching the end of a nine-day adventure.
The Gazelles of Team 600 are singing as they cross the finish line after getting all the day's checkpoints.
"We're so happy to be back!" exclaims Emilie of Team 507.
Team 117 has been called to order: Rallye HQ contacted them to tell them to head north.
Teams 154, 110, 206 and 222 have crossed the finish line.
In 4x4 Class, top team Team 200 is still at the head of the pack.
Karima and Dounia of Team 222 are also back at the bivouac! Accustomed to finishing in the TOP 10, the two gazelles are Unranked this year but enjoyed themselves, and that"s the important thing!
Géraldine and Sylvie were the first to cross the finish line, at 1 p.m. The two Gazelles were not able to do the final marathon leg because of mechanical problems.
Instead of going west towards the bivouac, Sandrine and Isabelle are heading north into the mountains. You'd think they didn't want to get back!
Bad news for teams that didn't get to CP4 in time and have to drive straight to the bivouac... They are Teams 145, 146, 160, 183 and 227.
They seem to be in a hurry to reach the finish line!
The Gazelles have reached CP7 and all is well. Problem fixed, their fans and loved ones can follow them once again.
Cloé and Mélanie have not disappeared in the dunes. The Gazelles are simply having a small problem with their Iritrack, which will soon be fixed. They reached CP6 at 7:26 this morning.
The Gazelles have 50 more minutes to reach CP4.
The Gazelles planned ahead and many slept at CP6 to be ready when it opened at 7 a.m.
Fifteen teams who spent the night at CP4 have decided not to take on the dunes. Caution is the watchword for this final day of competition!

LEG 5 MDJS – MARATHON

MECH IRDANE – OULAD DRISS

LEG 5 MDJS – MARATHON

MECH IRDANE – OULAD DRISS

CHECKPOINTS 12

KM IDEAL 270km

ESTIMATED TIME 17h

TERRAIN precise navigation, night under the stars, sand and majestic landscapes

5 days into the competition, it is a good bet that fatigue is starting to set in.

This leg is 270 kilometres long on paper—and more like 320 km in reality—in complete autonomy, with no mechanical assistance in the evening, no refuelling, a makeshift camp and 12 CPs to reach over the course of two days.

The difficulties begin on the first day. The Gazelles will need to navigate with precision, avoid rushing ahead blindly and choose their route wisely. In fact, the start of the leg takes them through “Gazelle Hell”. And the area lives up to its name: every year during the terrain reconnaissance we ask ourselves how the Gazelles find their way through without going crazy!

Things get easier after CP4. Plains stretch out as far as the eye can see and there are greater distances to cover between checkpoints. Let’s hope that the wind doesn’t rise, masking the features that serve to guide the Gazelles in a haze of dust…

This will be their first night away from the brouhaha of the bivouac, shared in good company with other Gazelles. A night under the Stars.On Day 2 of the marathon, the Gazelles will have to face the sandy plains of Hassi Bou Haiara. Sand and more sand for all the competitors, not as majestic as Erg Chebbi, but not necessarily any less treacherous…

Teamwork and confidence between navigator and driver will be essential for overcoming the challenging navigation and difficult terrain. But what spectacular scenery: black, brown, yellow, pink, grey… an entire palette of desert colours spread across the landscape! And vast empty plains, devoid of all sign of life apart from the occasional Nomad collecting water at a distant well.

Teams will continue to reach the new bivouac well into the night. While it may appear that the podium is taking shape, it is important to remember that things can change very quickly and unexpectedly. Only the last leg will tell what the final outcome will be, and there is another marathon leg in store for the Gazelles tomorrow!

CHECKPOINTS 12

KM IDEAL 270km

ESTIMATED TIME 17h

TERRAIN precise navigation, night under the stars, sand and majestic landscapes

The last teams have just arrived: the Gazelles will all sleep in the comfort of the bivouac tonight.
Teams 20, 127, 194, 220 are on their way to the bivouac. All Gazelles will sleep at the bivouac tonight in preparation for Leg 6.
At 8 p.m., 80 teams were back at the bivouac. It's going to be a long night for some...
Despite the imminent nightfall, teams are attempting to reach CP10 before it closes at 8 p.m. Don't give up!
47 teams have reached the bivouac!
Team 135 (Karine DUBOEUF / Prescillia FAGUNDES - ottobock) has just reached CP9, which closes at 7 p.m. Good job!
Team 211 (Virginie BIESSE / Camille Duchaussoy-Legiret - La ville de SERRIS 77700) is veering off. The Gazelles are clearly not following the right heading.
Team 148 (Elodie BOUET-BAGUET / Nathalie HARDOIN - APVL ingénierie) are taking the road via Zagora. They have a 2.5-hour drive ahead of them, but at least they know where they're going!
Many teams are heading to the bivouac by trail rather than by road...
One third of the teams are between CP9 and CP10.
Team 148 (Elodie BOUET-BAGUET / Nathalie HARDOIN - APVL ingénierie) is stuck in the dunes in the middle of the Tafraoute plain. The assistance team is on its way.
Desert windstorms can be impressive but sometimes only last a matter of minutes. The wind has died down: let's hope it lasts. Otherwise it will time to get the ski masks out!
Teams 200 (Jeanette JAMES / Murielle TARRAZI - Bumper Off Road) and 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE), who led the pack all morning, appear to have taken a long break for lunch. And a good idea too, on this hot sunny day! Now they are heading for CP10 in a perfect straight line.
50 km/h winds are gusting at the bivouac!
Team 154 (Géraldine VIGIER / Sylvie GODEAU-GELLIE - LA CABANE DU ROUTIOUTIOU) have reached the bivouac with their broken universal joint.
Team 139 (Béatrice FOURNIER / Chloé FOURNIER - FEBRE) had an overheating transmission. The weather is hot and heavy today. But they were able to continue without assistance.
Team 162 (Tania MOUMILOFF / Elvire BONDON-BOINET - HEC) has left their route along with Team 601 (Charlène LESTIENNE / Barbara BARBIER - ASSURANCES LESTIENNE). Are they on their way to the bivouac? That might be a good idea...
Team 154 (Géraldine VIGIER / Sylvie GODEAU-GELLIE - LA CABANE DU ROUTIOUTIOU) is on its way to the bivouac. The Gazelles have been driving in 2WD since breaking their universal joint yesterday.
Team 103 (Sandrine SAVEL / Florence CARLE - APPEL - Association Philanthropique de Parents d'Enfants atteints de Leucémie et autres cancers) is looking for CP10. It is just to their west, but the Gazelles are on the wrong track. Will they find their way?
Team 161 (Audrey LEPINE / Kattel CORCUFF - VW FINANCIAL SERVICES) found their way out, but unfortunately, just too late. They reached CP6 at 12:02 but the checkpoint had closed at noon.

LEG 4

NEJJACK – MECH IRDANE

LEG 4

NEJJACK – MECH IRDANE

Leg 4 cancelled because of bad weather.

After heavy rains during the night, driving conditions for Leg 4 are not sufficiently practicable to ensure the safety of the Gazelle teams. Rallye management has decided to cancel the leg.
The weather conditions are expected to improve throughout the day and the Gazelles will resume their adventure with Leg 5.

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 110km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h

TERRAIN 2 oueds to cross, rugged terrain, rocky valleys

Direction: the Mech Irdane bivouac.
One might be tempted to believe that the shorter distance of this leg would make it easier, but that is not the case!

As the more experienced Gazelles are all aware, the real challenges in this area are called OUED ZIZ and OUED RHERIS. While the first is relatively open, the second is rather stingy when it comes to access. In fact, with its metres-high cliff banks, Oued Rhéris is often considered impossible to cross. And when an opening does appear along the banks of the oued, the frequently muddy river bottom tends to put the brakes on enthusiasm… and on the vehicle as well! Important to make the right choice of where to cross.

Once in the oued, one might expect things to get better… But no, the teams must find a way back out of the oued and then navigate through a section of steep cliffs and valleys closed off by bigger and bigger rocks. One mistake could mean turning around and retracing their steps.

Clearly, nothing is ever easy at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc.

And tomorrow, the westward migration continues!

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 110km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h

TERRAIN 2 oueds to cross, rugged terrain, rocky valleys

Team 230 (Delphine ZEDET / Marion DELON - NIMAZUR) is also emotional. "It was physically and emotionally difficult. We were worried until 7 p.m. It was a good decision to sleep there. We slept longer, from 10 to 6, and better. And now we can take a good shower."
Team 215 (Céline RICHARD / Océane RUELLE - Soignon) can't help shedding a few tears on reaching the bivouac. "Our emotions are cooling down. Luckily we were 7 teams. The sand was so soft at the end of the day, the truck just couldn't get through. We ended up deciding to camp there. We put up our tents and spent a lovely evening together. We discussed our Rallye experience, our lives. It was great!"
Team 185 (Lauranne TORNAMBE / Estelle FERRARA - HC Résidences) enjoyed a good night's sleep at the foot of the dunes. "It took us 5 hours to get from CP2 to CP3. It was like a highway. There were teams stuck everywhere. We wanted to come back, but now we're happy that we spent the evening together, it was a very intense experience..."
The Gazelles who spent last night at at the base of the dunes are back at the bivouac. They were met by a cheerful welcome committee of other Gazelles and organizers.
To avoid all chance of risk, the Rallye management preferred to cancel Leg 4, scheduled for today.
After a night of rain, the bivouac has become a field of mud. At 6 a.m., Dominique Serra, director and founder of the rally, and Ludovic Taché, sport director, announce that today's leg is cancelled. There will be another briefing at 8 a.m.

LEG 3 TSARINE

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

LEG 3 TSARINE

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

CHECKPOINTS 6

IDEAL KM 60km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h30

TERRAIN vaste zone de sable : erg Chebbi

Today is the big day!
Whether it will be the most difficult day is anyone’s guess, but it is certainly the most anticipated: the Day in the Sand.

Teams in AUTO/TRUCK and QUAD/SSV/MOTORBIKE classes will have to confront the sand; there is no way out. However, they will have 3 different routes to choose from: Z, Y and X.

Route Z meanders around the feet of the dunes: a good choice for less experienced Gazelles. But be warned: Route Z is no day at the beach. While the slopes may be less steep and the hollows less deep, it is the same sand.

And then there is Route Y, which passes close to the highest sandy peaks. While navigation is not particularly difficult, the terrain is more rugged and increases in difficulty as the day progresses.

Finally, there is Route X for those who dare. With veritable walls of sand rising before them, the Gazelles will need to circle around, take stock, coax their way over or through. Checkpoints may be visible from a distance but will prove difficult to reach.

Unable to take on the “big” dunes, Crossover/Hybrid, e-Gazelle Auto and e-Gazelle Buggy/Prototype teams will have their share of challenges, with sandy oueds that will put up a resistance worthy of the most valiant Gazelles.

Whichever route they choose, whichever class they are in, the Gazelles will return to the bivouac proud and exhilarated at having faced down the sand… And there will be more!

CHECKPOINTS 6

IDEAL KM 60km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h30

TERRAIN dunes : erg Chebbi

Teams 141, 149, 163, 170, 182, 185, 210, 211, 215, 227 & 230 will set up their tents in the dunes tonight. They have until noon tomorrow to return to the bivouac and start Leg 4.
After a hard day in the dunes, the Gazelles enjoyed a glass of Tsarine champagne in the bar tent. A reward for their efforts...
Will some teams sleep out in the desert, under the starry sky? To continue the rally, they have to reach the bivouac by noon tomorrow.
It is after 7 p.m. - CP5 is now closed!
At 7 p.m., as the day draws to an end, 56 teams are still off-bivouac
15 teams are still in the dunes, between checkpoints 4 and 5. Time to head for home, it will be dark in an hour...
As it has done every evening of this 29th edition, the wind has risen which is bad news as it causes the dune landscape to change...
Some thirty teams are still in the dunes. Either they have fallen in love with the dunes and don't want to leave them, or they are driving in circles...
Several teams on the Y route are currently turning around and heading north in the direction of the bivouac.
At 5 p.m., 45 teams had reached the bivouac. Many more are still in the dunes
The day in the dunes often has the greatest number of calls for mechanical assistance. The dunes are tough, and as the sport director warned this morning: "they're going to be difficult." Result: 6 calls for assistance at the same time!
CP3 is in the process of closing. Some teams have not yet reached it...
Team 600 (Sihame NABIL (EL HORFI) / Amel NABIL (ELKHAL) - Sybelles.ski) is heading to the bivouac with a damaged wheel and battery trouble.
Team 171 (Sandrine GRILLET / Ivy HOWERTON), on Route Z, reached all their checkpoints but took a detour of several kilometres at the end of the leg...
Team 315 (Jennyfer SIMONET / Clémentine ANDRE - Votre Nounou à Tours - CHANTAL ANDRE) did not manage to find CP1. The checkpoint is now closed, and the team is returning to the bivouac...
Team 106 (Sophie FIS / Susan OSMOTHERLY - Dingo Australia) had a great day and reached every checkpoint. Now that the worst is over, they have made an error on their way back to the bivouac...
Already on their way back... Teams 137 (Elise FABRE / Eva L'HOSTIS - ID Logistics) and 187 (Manon STALENQ / Paola GENTILI - FLORENCE CHAUSSURES) are heading for the bivouac. This was a short day for them....
Team 218 (Véronique SGARRA BERIOT / Laëtitia BERTIN - KING JOUET) is the first to get stuck on this day in the dunes. And it is just the beginning...
Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE) passed close to their checkpoint, CP2 of Route X, without seeing it.
The E-Gazelles had their own start line this morning. They were transported to a spot south of the erg to avoid a long liaison by road. They are on Route G, adapted to the capacities of their vehicles.  

LEG 2

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

LEG 2

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 117km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h45

TERRAIN vastes plaines, premières difficultés et zones de sable

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 117km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h45

TERRAIN vastes plaines, premières difficultés et zones de sable

Like others before them, Audrey and Kattel received a call from Rally HQ alerting them that they were heading in the wrong direction to reach CP7.
Charlotte et Hélène of Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE) intend to stay in top position and are following near-perfect headings for this Lege 2! But they are not the only ones. Not far behind, Jeanette and Murielle of Team 200 (Jeanette JAMES / Murielle TARRAZI - Bumper Off Road) would like to take their place... Tune in tomorrow for the verdict!  
Teams 31, 222 (mechanical problem), 503, 507 and 510 are back at the bivouac, 9 hours after leaving it, exactly the time predicted by the sport director.
The Gazelles who did not reach the CP in time cannot continue today's leg.
Laurence and Marie are having an excellent day with good straight headings. They are the first to reach CP8.
Emilie and Gaëlle are back at the bivouac after reaching the day's 9 checkpoints. Bravo!
Karima and Dounia are back at the bivouac. They hope to have their vehicle repaired in time to continue the competition tomorrow.
The team has cancelled its request for mechanical assistance.
Karine and Cindy got stuck just after CP6 and have called for mechanical assistance to help them get out.
That seems to be the case for Team 136 (Marie FABIANI / Béatrice DUBROCA - OPEN GROUPE PAVILLON PRÉVOYANCE) who are desperately searching for CP4... Except they are not in the right place!
Leg 2 is advancing well, with Teams 123 and 139 already at CP7. Leaders 200 and 238 are not far behind!
CP3 has been closed since 2 p.m.. All teams reached it except 222, who had a technical problem, and 31, who were too late.
Vanessa and Julie have called for mechanical assistance. The mechanics are on their way.
Prune and Saadia of Team 30 (Prune SALTI / Saadia CHAMALI - GCF FOURCHARD & RENARD EIFFAGE) have got their wheel back. The rest of their lost material (including a jerrican of water) was picked up by the Gazelles of Team 25 (Véronique DE SYBOURG-SIFFERT / Laurence BRASEY - Michel Riedo&Fils SA). A gesture of solidarity!
1 p.m. update: the leaders will soon reach CP6. Most teams are between CPs 4 and 5.
Prune and Saadia have lost their spare wheel and will have to retrace their steps for 2.5 km to get it back. This will cost them a total of 5 km. Bad news for the Gazelles who are in the running for the ranking...
As lunch time approaches, it's also time to refuel the electric vehicles, so they can tackle the rest of the leg with a fully charged battery!
Further update: the competition is not over for Karima and Dounia! After some makeshift repairs, the Gazelles should be able to make it back to the bivouac on their own.
The Gazelles are out of their sand trap!
Update from Team 222 (Karima LAAROUSSI-MOUHYI / Dounia BENNANI-MAZHAR - MAISON NICOLE & MOON GARDEN): they have a broken front axle and will need to be towed back to the bivouac. It remains to be seen whether Karima and Dounia will be able to continue the rally as an Unranked team.
Team 167 (Dianeba CISSOKHO / Catherine REGOJO GENOTAL - SNCF) must have been missing yesterday's sand: they went out of their way to find some and got stuck!
The Gazelles of Team 194 (Bénédicte CAPPELIER / Marie-Hélène ENISCOURT - VIVARTIS) have rejoined the competition after a detour of 25 kilometres...
Team 132 (Céline MERIOT / Marie-Eve BAUDA - 4murs) received a call from rally HQ warning them not to drive any further east.

Day among the cauliflowers (or “choux-fleurs” in French)…
Nothing to do with the evening meal at the bivouac, this cauliflower is a “small” desert plant that resembles 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

The first two CPs should be no more than a formality as they lie along the route and will be checked off automatically on the way to the day’s first “playing field”.

Day among the cauliflowers (or “choux-fleurs” in French)… Nothing to do with the evening meal at the bivouac, this cauliflower is a “small” desert plant that resembles 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.

And if only the cauliflowers were the only problem…
The zone is also riddled with oueds of different depths and various levels of difficulty to cross. In some cases, following a oued may take them several hundred metres off course…

And if only the oueds were the only problem…
The area offers few clear features, and those are often so far away as to be easily lost in the heat haze. It’s not easy to navigate without a point of reference.

This is a day that will require all of their skills and attention to avoid the many pitfalls. 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!

LEG 1

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

LEG 1

NEJJACK – NEJJACK

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 115km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h30

TERRAIN vast plains, early difficulties and sandy areas

CHECKPOINTS 7

IDEAL KM 115km

ESTIMATED TIME 8h30

TERRAIN vast plains, early difficulties and sandy areas

It is midnight, and Teams 125 and 225 have just reached the bivouac. All teams are now back for the night!
As the sun slowly slips below the horizon, the Gazelles slowly make their way back. Only 71, or less than half, of the teams have reached the bivouac!
It's 6:30 p.m., CP4 is now closed.
Teams 601 (Charlène LESTIENNE / Barbara BARBIER - ASSURANCES LESTIENNE) and 600 (Sihame NABIL (EL HORFI) / Amel NABIL (ELKHAL) - Sybelles.ski) have requested assistance. Their two electric buggy prototypes appear to be out of battery power.
Team 131 (Hélène FABRE / Nathalie LECHAT - Aux bains de Cel) has not chosen the best option... They are currently stuck between two very different reliefs: to the left, an erg (dunefield), to the right, a mountain. They appear to be following a trail between the two... Will they remain stuck, or manage to get out like seasoned Gazelles?
Team 120 (Virginie GRIZON-SAMIT / Audrey ANTECH) just got out of the sand, by themselves! The Gazelles are up to the challenge!
CP3 is now closed.
Team 601 (Charlène LESTIENNE / Barbara BARBIER - ASSURANCES LESTIENNE), one of the two electric buggies, has reached CP4. They have 3 more checkpoints to reach if they want to finish their route. It's going to be a long day for them, and for others as well.
The calls for mechanical assistance continue, although not that many considering the late hour. This time Team 150 (Chantal PORTHAULT / Marisa IASSOGNA - Garage & carrosserie de Bellevue F. Iassogna SA) needs assistance for a possible wheel bearing problem.
Team 169 (Nathalie RUDENT / Isabelle CARLIER) has just reached the bivouac with two checkpoints. CP1 was quickly dealt with, but CP2 was another story. It took the team 4 hours to find the flag, just 6 kilometres away, after setting out in the opposite direction...
Team 110 (Helen TAIT WRIGHT / Haley BENNETT - DaisyVie/Landypoint) has just reached the bivouac. After reaching CP1, they were unable to find any other checkpoints. But they paid an interesting visit to the medical caravan of "Coeur de Gazelles", the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc's humanitarian organization.

The CP2s all closed at 3 p.m., as indicated in the Gazelles' road book of the day.

Team 213 (Emilie ESCANDE / Caroline ESCANDE - Green Cantine - Jack's burger) has veered off course to the east in the direction of Algeria.
At 2:30 p.m., 31 of the 52 teams on Routes D and E teams have reached CP3.
Team 145 (Lylia ABDAOUI / Saliha BENTABET - JEAN LOUIS DAVID`) is having trouble advancing through the sand, and has not yet reached a single checkpoint.
Team 190 (Anne-Marie BORG / Yolande BENS - CONSTRUCTIONS DU SUD OUEST - CSO) is back on track after a brief detour along the way to CP3. They noticed their error and corrected it quickly!
CP1 of each route closed at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon. Any teams who didn't make it that far will surely have learned a lesson or two from today's leg, which is now over for them.
Team 190 (Anne-Marie BORG / Yolande BENS - CONSTRUCTIONS DU SUD OUEST - CSO) is 90 degrees off course going from CP2 to CP3 ... Will they realize their error?
Team 124 (Marine MICHELANGELI / Christelle REYMONET - ESAF) is still browsing its way across the desert, sticking to the trails, without finding a single checkpoint...
Team 601 (Charlène LESTIENNE / Barbara BARBIER - ASSURANCES LESTIENNE), one of the two electric buggy prototypes, has just just found a way out of Oued Nejjack, which they could have avoided by headed straight from CP1 to CP2... Did they make a mistake plotting their points?
The Gazelles are advancing slowly but surely. It's going to be a long day for some teams. With an ideal distance of 115 kilometres, it should take them 8:30 to reach all the checkpoints. One thing is certain, after 8 p.m., they won't be able to see much to navigate by...
Most of the pack is now between CP1 and CP2. The course is advancing well, but this is but the beginning... the teams have 7 CPs to reach for today's leg.

Briefing at 6 a.m., first start at 7 a.m.… And, unlike the Prologue, every extra kilometre counts.

There is good news for the Gazelles even before Leg 1: the Kingdom of Morocco decided not to move the clocks back last fall! That means that the famous morning wakeup call of “Bonjour, il est 4 heures” has become ” Bonjour, il est 5 heures”… Not a bad start!

Briefing at 6 a.m., first start at 7 a.m.… And, unlike the Prologue, every extra kilometre counts.

There are 7 checkpoints on today’s itinerary across generally wide, open terrain. 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 it will be easy. The maps of this area are very precise but not necessarily explicit… the leg is sure to be challenging for some, and there are sure to be cries of joy as the Gazelles reach the famous red flag decorated with a gazelle’s head.

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!

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#FreeNasrin

Dominique Serra has dedicated this 29th edition to Nasrin Sotoudeh – prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate – who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who took off their headscarves in public.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition for her release.