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A character-building leg for our Gazelles

Leg 2

After finding the first leg long, the Gazelles got to discover new landscapes on Leg 2. Our Gazelles love surprises! Today these included cauliflowers… Nothing to do with the vegetable they eat in the bivouac’s dining tent, this cauliflower is a “small” desert plant that resembles a giant cauliflower which, in addition to being inedible, is as hard as rock: a danger for their vehicles. But they also encountered other obstacles along this 165-kilometre loop. A Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc without mishap or adventure, just doesn’t exist! 

Do better than yesterday

The Gazelles are extremely motivated at the start of this second leg. Team 101 (Alexandra BUGNON-MURYS / Véronique EUDES - SULZER) has a single goal: “We want to get all 9 checkpoints”. “We’d like to do as well, or better, than yesterday.” states Team 166 (Marion FELLEGGER / Laurence GASSER - Cerutti Toitures SA). Team 164 (Nathalie COURREGES / Roxane LOYOLA - LE VILLAGE DES BROCANTEURS 38) is optimistic: “We’re not in the competition yet but it could happen.”

Passion and challenge

The first two checkpoints are only a formality as they are checked off automatically along the way to the day’s festivities. The Gazelles then find themselves at CP3 where a large bottleneck has formed. Now the day can really begin. Some have learned a lesson from the day before and compare points with other teams, like Team 225 (Valérie SANTINI / Odile ALESSANDRI-CHIOLDI): “We got back to the bivouac after midnight, so we didn’t have time to prepare, but we’re hoping to have a good day.”  Valérie describes her vision of the event before setting out: “for me, the Rallye combines passion, challenge, the unknown, human values. And today we’re on Route B… for Bonheur [happiness]!”

Cauliflower or camel grass?

The Gazelles are not afraid of the famous cauliflowers; in fact, they are rather curious to see them. The camel grass proves a greater challenge along the way to CP 4. Small dunes with scattered patches of grass slow down many a Gazelle. Team 185 (Lauranne TORNAMBE / Estelle FERRARA - HC Résidences) is the first to reach CP4, hidden in a oued, with hugs and cries of joy. “We don’t trust ourselves as much as we should. We only drove 4 kilometres over, in other words 30 instead of 26. We’re really happy. We’re motivated by our small victories.” Team 221 (Anne-Sophie AGUESSY / Lise LEBLANC-GARDELLE - PITCH PROMOTION) stopped at two checkpoints belonging to other routes before finding the right one. Team 116 (Laetitia LAFON / Juliette MAS DAMOUR - Charente Pliage) fell into a trap: “Things was going really well but we got cross-axled in the camel grass”. “We had a hard time getting here. But here we are, we feel better now.” Many take an improvised lunch break. The wind gives way to warm sun. The teams are given the rest of their road book and plot their next points; any teams who don”t make it this far will not be able to continue the leg. Team 120 (Virginie GRIZON-SAMIT / Audrey ANTECH) congratulate themselves: “We wanted to be Warriors and we made it!” The Moroccan pirate team, complete with bandanas, is quick to resume their route!

Soft sand

The teams encounter a new obstacle on the way to CP6: soft sand. They air down their tires. The sand doesn’t do them any favours: for Inès’s 50th birthday, Team 227 (Inès DE FOUGEROLLE / Isabelle DE ROQUEFEUIL) gets to change a tire for the first time. Team 183 (Véra MURGULIA / Stéphanie PIRES - Bricomarché Solliès-Pont (83210)) gets stuck 3 metres from CP6 on Route A. “It’s the second time today that we’re getting out the sand ladders”.  Idem for Team 145 (Lylia ABDAOUI / Saliha BENTABET - JEAN LOUIS DAVID`): “We got bogged down in camel grass, we’ve even been pulling it out by hand.” But they are doing better than yesterday: “It was about time, because we were starting to wonder if we belong here. If we reach all our checkpoints, it will help our self-confidence.”

Already looking forward to coming back

Unforeseen events are part and parcel of today’s leg. The Gazelles of Team 197 (Coralie LAVOIL / Marlène PEYRILLOUS - GMV Industrie) improvise repairs after losing an axle rod bolt at CP8: “I get the impression it’s bent”. After about an hour, they manage to fix it after finding another bolt. Well done: they did well not to call mechanical assistance, which would have cost them 200 kilometres in penalties. Today’s leg offered many pitfalls to be overcome. The teams are happy to reach the bivouac, where a good night’s sleep will be welcome before tomorrow’s leg in the dunes. Several arrive with wide smiles and are already talking about next year: “We have lots of good ideas for the 30th edition” enthuses Team 174 (Marion MOUTIERS EMERY / Céline DUBREZ - AMS). But before thinking about next year, it’s time to celebrate Inès’s birthday….




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.