We leave the El Hazbane bivouac and head northeast to Neijakh, site of the first bivouac of the 2008 edition, where we will be spending 3
nights. The ideal route is 180 km, with a
minimum time of 10 hrs 15 mins. The start is given at 6:00 by Pascal Gentil,
enthusiastic as ever. As the sun rises, the cars shoot off in a cloud
of dust. The Gazelles
encounter sand near the beginning of the course, small strings of dunes
that they have to cross. For some this is an initiation... And this is
only the beginning, with the immense dunes of Merzouga still to come! This leg presents a greater driving challenge, with many
obstacles to cross, and more difficult navigation. The Gazelles must
find their way across the immense Lahfira plateau, aiming for passes
through the rocky barriers. The leg will lead the competitors to Oued
Rheris and on to Rissani. The race is definitely on, and the
competitors fan out across the kilometres. Mishaps for some, major
challenges for others, and for all, a day of incredible memories.
ACTEMIUM / Banque CIC 101 Catherine HOULES and Mélanie SUCHET in an ISUZU D-MAX
The Gazelles, who have not really succeeded in perfecting their navigation, spent a long time searching for CP4. They really had to rush to get to the last CP, worth 100 points before closing time. They reached the new bivouac, along with most of the other Gazelles, after dark.
PROVOST / CAISSE EPARGNE Idf 107 Frédérique BRIOIS-BOIZAND and Fabienne LALANDE in a JEEP WRANGLER
"We really got lost, it took us 4 hours to find the 3rd CP... But we kept our spirits up, we used that time to admire the amazing scenery, take photos, discover the country and its inhabitants."
MAISONS FAMILIALES / SOCIETE GENERALE 118 Anne-France MOISAND and Karine DENOIS RACT GRAS in a TOYOTA HDJ 100
The Gazelles use good strategy and it works! Good at navigating, they are always more-or-less on their heading and it pays.
But as today's leg was long and required good piloting skills, they didn't hesitate to make a few detours to move faster and get to the CP that was worth 100 points. They hold 6th place at the end of the leg.
GREENTECH / CREDIT MUTUEL 120 Delphine BICHOFFE and Christine HUNKA in a LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER
This morning, the team began the day by breaking the left rear shock absorber of their 4WD before CP1... They strapped it together like real pros and continued carefully on their way. They were 4th to reach their CP4 despite the mechanical problem, and end up reaching 7 of the day's 8 CPs, returning to the bivouac and the mechanics workshop by 20:00. The mechanics work through the night to repair the Gazelles' vehicles so that they can be on the start line on time the next morning.
R. MONNOT / CREDIT MUTUEL 121 Valérie and Virginie BERNARD in a TOYOTA LAND CRUISER
In spite of a bad cold, Valérie is holding up fine and the two sisters, always cheerful, reached 6 checkpoints today.
GROUPE ADAO / LCL 122 Catherine KERAMIDAS and Isabelle CHARLES in a TOYOTA HILUX
A good day for the Gazelles, who got stuck "like last year" at CP2... they laugh heartily. Enthusiastic, they are wont to explosions of joy after succeeding a difficult crossing. "These moments make us forget about all of the problems searching for sponsors . The best thing is that our two
sponsors kept their word and gave us 10,000 Euros each without wanting to advertise on the vehicle because of the economic crisis... Many thanks to them!"
DESJARDINS 130 Josée SEGUIN and Émilie ROBILLARD in a NISSAN NAVARRA
The Brink's Challenge Canadian team has already spent their first night alone in the desert. They got back to the bivouac early in the morning with 4 CPs. After setting out again around 9:00, the girls reached 3 CPs before heading for the new bivouac.
LE PARI DES GAZELLES / BANQUE POPULAIRE DE BOURGOGNE 157 Nadia FOURNO and Patricia NAUD-CRON in a NISSAN PATROL
Nadia and Pati, always cheerful, saw their good humour put to the test today. The Gazelles attempted and succeeded several daring manoeuvres, but at the end of the day they had to call for mechanical assistance and spent the night out in the desert.
EXCO / AGF 167 Sophie DE L'EPINE GASTINE and Isabelle DE L'EPINE in a LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110
The Gazelles found today's leg difficult, in part because of the terrain and also because of the length of the leg and the distances between the CPs. They found 7 checkpoints, with no time to attempt the 8th. They made their way to the new bivouac in convoy with other teams after dark.
BMCE Bank 193 Majda OUARAFANA and Sanaa CHAIDI in an ISUZU D-MAX
The Brink's Challenge Franco-Moroccan team had some bad luck. After smashing their bumper after CP1, their right front wheel got jammed...The Gazelles decided to head straight for the bivouac, which was still 130 km away.
AUTOMATISME ET EXPLOITATION DES ENERGIES/ CREDIT MUTUEL 203 Florence SIGNORETTO and Vanessa CHAILLOT in a TOYOTA HILUX
These novice Gazelles spent almost the whole day finding 2 CPs. It then took them 3 more hours to reach the bivouac, but they are happy to be living this unique adventure.