Stage 6 MARATHON
Daily Report: Marathon leg, Day 2
After yesterday's wind, rain and muddy conditions, the Gazelles are granted a last day under blue skies and a clear light that caresses the curves of the Chegaga dunes.
Many teams have to call for mechanical assistance, or attempt to find temporary solutions to their problems…
With the competition over, it's party time at the bivouac! The Canadian teams open the dancefloor at the centre of the bivouac, sumptuously decorated with red Moroccan carpets, and are quickly joined by the rest of the Gazelles! Despite 8 gruelling days of competition, they still have the strength to celebrate the Rallye, their Rallye! And they are right to want to make the most of the occasion - after all, it's not every day that they get to party in the middle of the desert!
A real turning point
RALLYE NOTES 15:00 - "You have 85 new messages..."
RALLYE NOTES 13:00 - Team 154 is stuck
RACE NOTES 12:00 - Straight from the finish line
INFO RALLYE 11:00 - Arrival of the first team
RALLYE NOTES 10:30 - assistance for Team 160
RALLYE NOTES 08 : 30 - The role of strategy...
The top positions could well be determined out over the next few hours...
The Gazelles on M6, video 17 - interview with Australian team 168
RALLYE NOTES 08:00 - Foum Zguid bivouac
The arrival and installation of the final bivouac in Foum Zguid was delayed by yesterday's sandstorm. After a long night's work, the Moroccan logistics team is putting the finishing touches to the tent village, which is now ready to welcome the Gazelles for their last night in the desert.
RALLYE NOTES 20:00 - Bivouac in the open desert
At the end of the first day of this second marathon leg, most of the teams decide to bivouac between CP3 and CP4. We wish them a wonderful night under the starry desert sky...
RALYE NOTES 19:20 - truck stopped
Lionel and Jean-Christophe, assistance mechanics, have been dispatched by the Rallye Control Centre in response to a request for assistance by Team 217 (Myriam MAZZUCHINI, Evelyne FILLOUX and Sandra RIVIERE - Ets Gérard Goursaud), 5 km from the famous Lac Iriki. The reason for the intervention: a problem with one of the truck's wheels.
RALLYE NOTES 15:45 - call for mechanical assistance
Team 319 (Daniela SNYDERS and Julia SALAMON - Daimler AG - Mercedes Benz Vans) has requested mechanical assistance for engine trouble. The assistance team is on its way.
RALLYE NOTES 10:20 - capricious weather
A light rain is reducing visibility this morning, slowing down the teams' progress. Most of them are between CP1 and 2.
RALLYE NOTES 09:30 - a critical incident
Close to CP1, Team 170 (Jeanette JAMES and Florence PHAM - Volkswagen Véhicules Utilitaires) are stuck in the sand. Their situation is critical, because at this stage in the competition, a small error can have a large effect on the final event ranking.
6 o'clock: heading for the dunes
We would like to wish a very happy birthday to Chisom Ajaero (Team 157 - Chisom Ajaero and Hauwa MSHELIA - TOTAL E&P Nigeria). This is going to be a birthday to remember for our Nigerian Gazelle; after spending a day driving in the Chegaga dunes, the team will set up camp out under the brilliant desert sky, with a cheery campfire, good company and... her husband! Chisom's husband is part of the Gazelle Trek, a group of visitors who will join the Gazelles for this second marathon night under the stars.
5 o'clock briefing: second marathon leg
Driving will also be difficult in oued Draa, with its impressive stretch of dunes: no more than two or threes metres but high close together, increasing the likelihood of getting stuck!
LEG 6 - Wednesday March 28 and Thursday March 29
MHAMID / FOUM-ZGUID - ideal distance 255 km – minimum time 18:00 – Marathon leg
In this region of sandstorms, a quick prayer to the gods may be in order. Because today’s leg, probably the most challenging leg of the Rallye, is all the more difficult under stormy conditions.
The navigator has few landmarks to work with, and the path is blocked by mounds of sand with few ways around them, causing the Gazelles to twist and turn around the bends of the Oued DRAA. Once a vigorous river, today it is rare to find the smallest trickle of water there. However, caution is still advisable because even without water, the old riverbed is not easy to approach or to cross… The dunes may not be high, no more than 2 or 3 metres, but they are so close together and over such a long distance… Time rather than distance will be of the essence in getting through this region.
For this two-day marathon, the teams can once again play their trump card by choosing their level of difficulty. Nobody will be left behind during this last leg: the organizers have placed more value on the willingness to go all the way than on the level of difficulty. The vehicles pitch on the crests of infinite mineral waves. Once again the competitors will sleep in the shelter of the dunes, alone or in a group if they are lucky enough to cross paths with other “Gazelles”.
Then back to the roller coaster, as far as the eye can see! Dune follows dune, until suddenly they end in a large dried-up lake. It is a strange sensation, after so many hours spent rocking through the sands: suddenly the vehicle cruises along so silently and smoothly. More hills at the end of the course. No great difficulties here, but the end of the leg will only be reached by those who haven’t lost too much time in the dunes.
This last leg ends early to allow the teams to reach the bivouac before dark. One last night of celebration, where the magic of the desert will certainly find its way into memories that will last a lifetime...