The calm before the storm


By the pool, Demis Roussos croons "Enfer ou paradis, n’importe où mais ensemble", in unison with the numerous hotel cats winding sinuously between the chair legs. After the morning's bustle of activity, the Gazelles have deserted the parking lot. The garden seems to drowse under the hot early afternoon sun.
The Gazelles enjoy a languid interval before the imminent arrival of the other teams from Paris, and this evening's briefing. Some, like Team 20 (Dorothée LANGLOIS and France CLEVES - POLARIS BENELUX) are poring studiously over their maps. Cathy, Team 231 (Caroline MAURICE and Catherine LAJOUX - First Stop) makes minor repairs to the pocket of her vest before moving on to paint her nails: fuchsia to match the vest. "Classy, isn't it?" she laughs.
At her feet lie the famous maps, which she claims to be "absorbing from a distance"! Zero stress, quite normal for this Gazelle regular. A Moroccan team, here for their first participation, are reviewing techniques for driving in the dunes. Others lounge about on deck chairs, swapping Gazelle tales: one last chance to relax before the competition, fatigue and sand...


First km on Moroccan soil

In order to answer the question "Sleep well?" circulating at 4:30 this morning, we would need to follow the suggestion of Team 148 (Marielle ASOU-POTHET and Valérie THIEBAUT - Isuzu - Midi Libre - Tamounte)




Video: Paris and the Trocadero Gardens

Final preparations for the 25 teams in Erfoud

While they await the long convoy on its way from Paris, the Organizers spend a busy morning preparing the 25 teams who arrived by plane or live in Morocco...



Their first briefing


08:00 this morning: the 25 teams who arrived Monday morning at Hotel Xaluca in Erfoud were summoned to their first briefing, by the pool: Quebeckers, Moroccans, quads and dune buggies. Awake but to varying degrees, judging from the haphazard state of their makeup, the Gazelles were reminded about the Charter of (Good) behaviour by Rallye creator Dominique Serra. Punctuality, respect and solidarity. But also, noblesse oblige (not to mention the coat of arms of the Moroccan King embroidered on their vests), exemplary behaviour and manners towards the Moroccan people.
Mrs. Serra went on to describe the challenge to come. Our Gazelles are warned in an almost Churchillean manner: Sweat and tears await them, especially considering this year's record number of Rallye newcomers: 70% are here for the first time. But it is impossible to ignore the joy of pushing their limits and the proud moment when they will finally drive onto that beach in Essaouira - nothing can compare with that!
Catherine (Team 25, Catherine KERAMIDAS and Christine ARMENTE - Actemium) can't help getting teary-eyed... even though this is her 8th edition of the Rallye.


RACE NOTES: before the race


3 teams broke down during the long drive from Paris to Almeria, where they were scheduled to board ship for Morocco. Teams 215 and 140 have changed vehicles and will still be able to make it for tomorrow's Prologue. But Team 214 (Bérengère VIANT and Stéphanie ORTLIEB - Groupe Ambulances Mader) won't reach the bivouac until tomorrow afternoon. They will have to launch themselves directly into the action of Leg 1 on Thursday, without the "warm-up" of the Prologue...


The Rallye on M6 - video 8

Les Gazelles on M6 - video 7

ERFOUD, Gateway to the Desert

Today is the big day for the Gazelles taking the boat from Europe: after spending 3 days travelling across France and Spain and a night on the ferry, the teams touch down on Moroccan soil! The competitors are now on their way from Nador to Erfoud, a 600-km drive, where they are expected for their first briefing on Moroccan soil.

Meanwhile, in Erfoud, members of the Organization are already in place to carry out the verifications for the 25 international teams who are starting their adventure directly in Morocco. The rest of the organizers are busy at work putting the finishing touches to this year’s first bivouac, known as the Nejjakh bivouac. Behind the scenes, final preparations are well underway: setting up the course for the Prologue, scouting locations for the radio relay teams, installing technical and satellite equipment... All of the logistics needed to complete the job that began several months ago. Tomorrow, everything will be in place for the start of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc!