“Tonight we will be the queens of the X”
But the Gazelles’ troubles are far from over. Dunes means sand, and sand means… getting stuck! The two Nathalies of Team 105 (Nathalie ROSSINI-RACAUD / Nathalie LEVERT - UMANOVE) take it lightly. “We took a photo to immortalize our cross axle and show it to our coach”, laughs the Gazelle, camera in hand. Even the “seasoned” Gazelles are forced to get their shovels out. “The dunes are not lined up in the same direction, so it’s really difficult”, admits Hélène of 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE), last year’s winner of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles with her teammate Charlotte.
The day is also a challenge for the SSV teams, who get stuck one after the other. It’s a first for Prune, with nineteen Rallyes under her belt. The Gazelle of Team 30 (Prune SALTI / Saadia CHAMALI - GCF FOURCHARD & RENARD EIFFAGE) blames “particularly soft sand”. But the Gazelles hold onto their legendary good humour. “Tonight we will be the Queens of the X”, jokes Marie of Team 22 (Audrey GANTELET / Marie LAMOUILLE - SOGIMM).
Teams allowed to drive together
In the face of this challenge, even greater than usual, reaching the first checkpoint is cause for celebration. Laurence and Marie perform an energetic tango. “This might be the only CP we find, so we’re making the most of it”, exclaims Laurence. After CP1, the teams take advantage of the fact that they are allowed to drive together in the dunes, such as Teams 25 (Véronique DE SYBOURG-SIFFERT / Laurence BRASEY - Michel Riedo&Fils SA) and 30 (Prune SALTI / Saadia CHAMALI - GCF FOURCHARD & RENARD EIFFAGE).
As the day advances, the shovels come out with increasing frequency. Camille and Sophie of Team 140 (Camille BERCHON / Sophie Takenouti - Groupe BR MOTORS) are waiting for “an easy dune to lift our morale”. Several generous Gazelles open the way for those who are tired and bit discouraged and advance at their own pace, CP after CP, until they exit the dunes.