Prologue

Daily Report: when nature gains the upper hand

 

The Sporting Director said it this morning: the prologue is a sampling of all of the types of terrain that the Gazelles will see during the Rallye. Terrain capable of stopping all progress in its tracks, and for quite some time.

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RACE NOTES 19:00

 

Team 193, after realizing their navigation error at the beginning of the Prologue, decided to return to the bivouac without reaching any CPs, to revise their navigation theory and avoid tiring themselves out.

Team 230, stuck in the sand since 15:30, decides to do the same and calls for mechanical assistance. Perseverance has its limits and the day is beginning to draw to an end.

At 19:00, about 50 teams have reached the bivouac. A long line of vehicles is waiting for their turn at the finish line.

With a twinge of sadness, the Gazelles hand their prohibited material over to the sheriffs. Many make one last phone call to their loved ones. For the next 8 days, La Poste will be their connection to the world.

 

Record traffic

 

People are talking about the Rallye! Since last Sunday, 312,945 people have viewed the M6 capsule about the Organizaion of the Rallye, published Saturday March 17 on DailyMotion. A peak in traffic that corresponds to the teams' departure for the desert and a growing enthusiasm for the Rallye! The Gazelles, as well as the entire team of Organizers, thank you for your support,

Keep following their exploits on the official Website or the official Facebook page of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc!

 

RACE NOTES 18:00

 

Team 120 is "thrilled" to rediscover their driving and navigation skills, maps, compass and the wide open spaces. This is not the case for Team 126 who, despite an early return, seem disappointed by their performance. "We're not happy. We need to head directly for the checkpoints" explains Evelyne, "but that's not quite what we did. We're doing ok over short distances, but for longer distances we're having some trouble. We want qua-li-ty!" she concludes.

 

Team 172, first of the Volkswagen Amaroks to reach the bivouac, is satisfied. "We drove straighter than straight", announces Christine. According to Muriel, "We weren't sure at the first checkpoint, but then we gained confidence. In fact, we followed the compass the whole time. Straight headings!"

 

Team 193 realized its navigation error and retraced its steps to CP1. Team 139 reached CP1 without problems but has begun to deviate from its heading.


RACE NOTES 17:10

 

The first teams have reached the finish line, after impeccable navigation and driving - Teams 20 (POLARIS BENELUX),  122 (Dacia Duster Women@Renault) and 147 (Isuzu - Radio Vitamine - Coeur de Gazelles).

For Team 20, who drove only 2.4 km over the ideal distance, "It's just incredible! We competed in 2010 with a Gran Vitara and now, this was a dream Prologue, nothing like last time! We are thrilled!"

 

3 calls for mechanical assistance so far during this Prologue, all for problems getting out of the sand - Teams 117 (the Hummer), 162 and 145. The assistance team was quick to respond and help them on their way.

 

 

RACE NOTES 16:00

 

14:15 - The start is given. An hour later, all of the vehicles have driven off to enthusiastic honking of horns. The wind has picked up, swirling dust and sand and reducing visibility. 

At 15:20, on Route B, teams 109, 122 and 21 (a buggy) have passed their first checkpoint.

In the opposite direction, on Route D, 120 and 101 are also off to a good start and are heading for CP2. The other teams are not far behind, especially on Route D.

Team 193 is following an impeccable straight line… along the wrong heading. After a 90° navigation error, they are preparing to tackle the mountain.

A quarter of an hour later, 122 is 3 km from the second checkpoint. Team 231, heading for 1D, has deviated from its heading.

15:40 - 147, 148 and 112 have reached their first checkpoint and are heading for CP2.  On Route E, the first teams are approaching CP1: 121 and 141.

101 is close to CP2, just 1 km to the south, but appears to be searching for it.

Overall, after an hour and a half the Prologue is advancing well without many navigation errors, in spite of the difficult weather conditions: visibility is reduced to 500 metres, dropping to 300 metres when the wind gusts.

 

Impressions at the start line

 

Casque enfilé, ceinture bouclée, main sur le volant, les Gazelles sont parées à prendre le départ du prologue, préambule à la compétition dont les résultats ne seront pas comptés dans le classement.

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RACE NOTES 13:30

 

Jean-Pierre Berthet, the event's Sporting Director, announces: "This prologue is relatively easy, a warm-up for the rest of the competition!" On the itinerary: 3 checkpoints, a bit of reg, some sand, camel grass, etc… a sampling of the conditions our Gazelles will be dealing with over the days to come.  The prologue does not count towards the event ranking, but provides a chance for the teams to test their skills before the real competition begins. The Sporting Director keeps the best for last: "If you get lost today, you won't spend the night outside the bivouac: we will make an exception to the rule and come to get you!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering the bivouac

After a long 3-day voyage, our Gazelles finally reached the bivouac around 13:00. Most of them are discovering the setup for the first time, while for others is an affectionate return to the familiar. For the duration of the Rallye, this will be their goal at the end of each long and demanding day.
 
Team 129 (Sylvie BOUET and Mélanie COURSON - SNAPA) put up their tent in the space reserved for Gazelles, then heave a sigh of relief when they spot the bathroom facilities. "Aaaaaahhh! Showers!"  After a quick look around: "It's really big! It's like a village in the middle of the desert!" Which is quite an accurate description.
 
"Where is La Poste?  It's really important!" As for the mess tent, a single exclamation is enough to express their feelings: "Waouhhhhhhh! That makes me hungry!" The medical tent next to it evokes a prudent interest, but not its adjoining tent: this is where Latifa works, offering relaxing massages, allowing the Rallye's physiotherapists to concentrate on the more urgent cases. After taking a look at the start line, our Gazelles have just one wish: to get going. The dream that they have been working towards for two years is about to become a reality.
 

 

Odometer calibration: the competition draws near

An indispensable tool for establishing the event ranking, the odometer calibration consists of establishing, for each vehicle, a coefficient that will be used to calculate the true distance driven.

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The Gazelles on M6, video 09

PROLOGUE - Wednesday March 21

NEIJAKH / NEIJAKH – ideal distance 42km – minimum time 2:40

A short half-day leg with just 3 checkpoints (CPs) for a first taste of navigation and the local terrain. The route offers reliefs that are clearly visible and easy to identify on the maps, some wide flat plains and a oued (river bed) that will be impossible to miss... everything necessary for a relatively easy introduction. Now it’s up to the Gazelles to make the most of this opportunity to fine-tune their respective roles and the functioning of the team.

The Prologue will give rise to an initial ranking, used only to establish the starting order of the teams for the next day.