Stage 5

Meet the Gazelles: Let's do it!

When asked why they decided to take part in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, American Gazelle Team 107 (Amy LERNER and Tricia REINA - American Expedition Vehicles) answer, with shining eyes: "It all went so fast. I read an article in the newspaper, then I went on the Rallye Website and it was crazy! I called my sister and she said 'Let’s do it!' "
Result: our American Gazelles are currently in 10th place [after Leg 5] in 4WD/Truck class: a solid performance for their second Rallye!



Daily Report: El Fecht to Mhamid

In an early-morning veil of dust, the teams set out to cover 200 km in about 11 hours.
Today's strategy involved sticking to perfect headings to save on kilometres over the long distance to the next bivouac.
This morning's route [...]


Sleeping at the bivouac tonight...


All of the teams! The last dozen teams out on the terrain are heading for the bivouac, which moved from El Fecht to Mahmid during the day.

This is good news for the Gazelles, who will all be st the start line ready to tackle the 6th and final leg of this 22nd edition.
On tomorrow's itinerary: 18 hours of sand and oueds with a chance of sandstorms, which are common in this area.



RALLYE NOTES 14:25 - CP6 has fallen!


The Mobile Rallye Control Centre continues to adjust the organization vehicles' positions and to inform journalists as to the location of the teams they are following. The teams are making regular progress across largely flat, fast terrain.
The RZR of Team 20 (Dorothée LANGLOIS and France CLEVES - POLARIS BENELUX) has already reached CP6. Further back at CP5, Team 187 (Carole MONTILLET and Julie VERDAGUER - Axecibles), 4WD/Truck class leaders, confirm their strategy which consists of taking their time to avoid taking risks. Under a blazing sun in a milky sky, most of the teams are between CP5 and 6 between immense rocky hillsides.


RALLYE NOTES 13:00 - update on the leaders


In 4WD class, Team 187 (Carole MONTILLET and Julie VERDAGUER - Axecibles) are taking their time on this 5th leg which has cost them victory in past editions. Meanwhile, further along the course, Teams 170 (Jeanette JAMES and Florence PHAM - Volkswagen Véhicules Utilitaires) and 203 (Elisabete JACINTO and Sofia CARVALHOSA - Volkswagen Véhicules Utilitaires) are going all out on this leg that could help them to climb in the rankings.
Already halfway between CP3 and CP4, the teams are showing their determination to succeed in this leg. In Crossover class, Team 310 (Sylvie HUSSON and Sophie GOSET - La Poste) are leading the pack with a precisely-plotted crow-flies course.  Team 311 (Lucie FERNANDEZ and Céline TSALIKIS - La Poste), not far behind them in the rankings, are heading south-west towards CP4.
RZR Team 20 (Dorothée LANGLOIS and France CLEVES - POLARIS BENELUX), leaders in Quad/Motorbike class, are following an in-extremis southern heading to find their 3rd checkpoint. Quad Team 25 (Catherine KERAMIDAS and Christine ARMENTE - Actemium) are heading north to their CP3.
Most of the teams have now between CP3 and CP4.


RALLYE NOTES 10:59 - moving across the oued


Equipped with a radio and satellite communications, perched on a hill with a panoramic view of the area around CP6, the mobile Rallye Control Centre has taken over from the bivouac-based Control Centre until the latter is set up in Mhamid.

On the map displayed on the computer screens, the teams can be seen to be following a straight heading from CP2 to CP3, across oued Assi Bou Haiara. Meanwhile the assistance, media and organization vehicles and helicopters are following the competitors' progress across the desert.


RALLYE NOTES 07:30 - 111, 144 and 225 have reached the bivouac


After spending the night outside the bivouac, these Gazelles have just reached the El Fecht bivouac, which is in the process of being dismantled. Now it's time to fuel up, see the mechanics, pack, have a bite to eat and off they go again, to tackle Leg 5!


RALLYE NOTES 06:30 - Start of the second-last leg


Last night the centre of the bivouac was deserted by 22:00, and for a good reason. Tired after their previous night's sleep disturbed by rain and flapping tents, the Gazelles went to bed early to be in shape for this morning. And the difference shows at the start line! The competitors are more positive than ever, primed to meet the challenge and make the most of today's adventure! Their belongings packed and safely secured in their dusty vehicles, the Gazelles are waiting for the start signal.

At the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, there are as many goals as there are teams. Team 123 (Patricia CICILIANI and Katia BOUEY - Sublimatio), with their colourful 4WD car, are "positive and confident, the essential ingredients for driving a good course!"
As for Team 213 (Mireille MOUNIER and Emmanuelle MOUNIER - SDRTP Forez), who say they are "well rested!", the goal is to not waste any time, to reach the bivouac early and rest up before the Marathon.
Finally, for the Gazelles of Team 119 (Christelle DAGOIS and Myriam TAUPIN - Weckerle Cosmetics), the goal is to end up in the top 50 of the 4WD/Truck class.
The goals are set - all that is left is to make them happen!


RALLYE NOTES 06:00 - a shorter briefing


This morning's briefing for Leg 5 is much shorter than usual. As our Gazelles gain in experience the Sporting Director has less need to explain every detail of the competition. However, he does announce the tone of this 5th leg: while yesterday's leg was "calm", today's will be very long. This will be a leg based on navigation, across wide rocky plains - and time will be of the essence!


LEG 5 - Tuesday March 27

EL FECHT / MHAMID - ideal distance 200 km – estimated time 11:15 – Straight route

Little or no sand during this leg, which begins in a wide mountainous area intersected by valleys. Then the route crosses more open terrain with well-marked landscapes. The combination of pink sand and silver-grey rock is a real treat for the eyes. The ground is carpeted with a fine layer of red sand, sprinkled over the Moroccan landscape from time to time by the wind from nearby Algeria, in a gesture of neighbourly friendliness.
Most teams should be able to find all of today’s CPs. In the middle of these wide plains, the best strategy is to stick to a perfectly straight course in order to minimize on kilometres. 

After following a long wide trail, and then crossing an immense crater, the Gazelles will need to gather their strength for tomorrow, and the last leg of the competition.