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BRINK'S Challenge

1st Leg: El Hazbane/El Hazbane

Dominique Serra wakes the competitors up herself at 4:00 in the morning, at the bivouac, every day of the Rallye (with the exception of Marathon mornings). The briefing takes place at 5:00 in the restaurant tent over breakfast. Jean-Pierre Berthet, Sporting Director, emphasizes safety (seat belts, speed...) and gives a brief description of this first leg: a 188 km loop (ideally...), returning to the El Hazbane bivouac.

Estimated minimum time: 10.5 hours, 6 CPs to find. To prevent teams from following each other, the Gazelles are distributed along 5 different routes. Today's route should drive well, no difficult terrain to cross, fairly straightforward navigation. There will be a bit of sand, the first dunes of the competition, which could pose problems for the novice Gazelles.

The leg is long and the Gazelles will need to keep an eye on their watches if they want to attempt the last CP. The less experienced teams may choose to return to the bivouac after CP5; in any event, the CPs close at 19:10. A theatrical start was signalled by Taekwondo champion Pascal Gentil. At the finish line, the Gazelles are greeted with a glass of mint tea and snacks by Karine and Christiane in the Total tent. 

ACTEMIUM / Banque CIC 101 Catherine HOULES and Mélanie SUCHET in an ISUZU D-MAX
After starting on the 17th line this morning, the team finds all the day's CPs but makes unaccustomed mistakes: their navigation is off on the first CPs, until CP4 which they find with the help of another vehicle. They reach CP6 right at 7:10 and set their heading for the bivouac, taking 2 hours to get there.  
                                               
ALVERGNAS AUTOMOBILES / RABOBANK 103 Angélique ALVERGNAS and Sidonie DUBRULE in a TOYOTA KDJ 120 At the start of today's leg, the Gazelles rediscover the joy they had on previous editions, with Angélique at the wheel and Sidonie navigating by her side. Perhaps overconfident, confidence, in the euphoria of the moment the Gazelles reach CP4 before CP3, requiring a 40 km round trip which will distance them from the podium, at least for the time being. Trying to make up for lost time, they make a flying finish.                                           
                  
VALEURS ET PATRIMOINES / CREDIT MUTUEL 116 Elisabeth VETTER and Claire SALANNE in a TOYOTA KZJ 95  
Less stressed than at the start of the race, Babette and Claire make their way from one CP to the next. The Gazelles had some trouble towards the end of the day's course: they get stuck in the sand between CP4 and CP5 and waste a lot of time getting out. They then head for CP6 before opting for the road, longer but more sure for the return to the bivouac.
                       
MAISONS FAMILIALES / SOCIETE GENERALE 118 Anne-France MOISAND and Karine DENOIS RACT GRAS in a TOYOTA HDJ 100 First participation for Karine, second for Anne. They find the first five CPs without any problem, then on the way to CP6 decide to save some time by not deflating their tires before entering a sandy zone. As a result, they spent some time digging before finally reaching the CP.   
                                                           
R. MONNOT / CREDIT MUTUEL 121 Valérie and Virginie BERNARD in a TOYOTA LAND CRUISER
Back at the bivouac before nightfall, the duo had a hard time getting to the second checkpoint; they drove around in circles for hours, wasting many precious kilometres before finding it...
                                                          
GROUPE ADAO / LCL 122 Catherine KERAMIDAS and Isabelle CHARLES in a TOYOTA HILUX
Finishing 13th in the general ranking for the leg, the Gazelles had to look under the hood of their vehicle just a few kilometres before reaching the bivouac, but fortunately it was nothing serious...                                                                
                                                      
DESJARDINS 130 Josée SEGUIN and Émilie ROBILLARD in a NISSAN NAVARRA
The Canadian team is a bit lost in the Moroccan desert... The Gazelles try to ask the children in the village of El Fecht for directions, after having difficulty locating CP1
At 20:30 they have not yet returned to the bivouac, but a night out in the desert is a pleasant experience for these Canadian Gazelles who are discovering Morocco for the first time... 
                                         
LE PARI DES GAZELLES / BANQUE POPULAIRE DE BOURGOGNE 157 Nadia FOURNO and Patricia NAUD-CRON in a NISSAN PATROL
The two Gazelles searched long and hard for CP4, but after climbing a dune, they finally spotted the red flag. They also helped another team to reach the checkpoint, bravo for their Gazelles spirit! They are in 47th place this evening.                             

BODET EMO / C2C 166 Sarah BREBION and Krystèle BODET in a NISSAN TERRANO II
   
Bolstered by their experience in hiking and land navigation, they manage to find their way around the desert in spite their lack of 4WD race experience. As the event unfolds they are less and less stressed... "We find the bivouac the most stressful: we listen to the others and it disturbs us!"                                                                    
EXCO / AGF 167 Sophie    France DE L'EPINE GASTINE and Isabelle DE L'EPINE in a LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110                                                             The duo realize at CP2 that their azimuth compass isn't working properly. "Since the start we have been ending up off course, and we didn't know why..." Luckily they have been comparing the readings with another instrument...
   
BMCE Bank 193 Franco-Moroccan Team Majda OUARAFANA and Sanaa CHAIDI in an ISUZU D-MAX

The team is off to a bad start with a flat tire between the bivouac and CP1. Between CP1 and CP2 they get stuck in the sand, and are helped out by Canadian team who loan them their sand ladders. They reach CP2 at 16:00. "We tried to get to CP3 but had to give up; we were heading for the bivouac along the trail when we saw another team go off the trail... but they were more scared than hurt. We returned to the bivouac together by the road after dark."                                                                        
AUTOMATISME ET EXPLOITATION DES ENERGIES/ CREDIT MUTUEL 203 Florence SIGNORETTO and Vanessa CHAILLOT in a TOYOTA HILUX
The Gazelles spent 5 hours finding CP2B, after spending 3 hours getting to CP1. They had found one CP during the Prologue... will they get 3 CPs tomorrow? "The problem is that we aren't able to figure out where we are on the map... Maybe that will come with experience..." explains the navigator.