DAR KAOUA – DAR KAOUA
DAR KAOUA – DAR KAOUA
Why wait ?
Dreaded by some, eagerly anticipated by others… the time has come for the Gazelles to confront the dunes of Erg Chebbi !
Shovels at the ready, tow straps on board, not to mention sand ladders… it’s not going to be an easy ride! The second leg, and the Gazelles are already in the sand.
Teams in AUTO/TRUCK and QUAD/SSV/MOTORBIKE classes , will have no choice but to tackle the dunes; there is no way to avoid them. However, they will have 3 different routes to choose from: Z, Y and X.
Route Z meanders around the feet of the dunes: a good choice for less experienced Gazelles. But while the slopes may be less steep and the hollows less deep, it is still the same sand…
And then there is Route Y which passes close to the highest sandy peaks. While navigation is not particularly difficult, the terrain is more rugged, the passes are narrower, and the driving is increasingly difficult.
Finally, there is Route X for those who dare, with real mountains of sand to drive over and around. Checkpoints may be visible from a distance, but time seems to stretch… And it’s hot; the sand seems to melt as the day progresses… The conditions can be quite hellish here, but after all, they are seeking the holy grail !
The choice will be easy for QUAD/SSV/MOTORBIKE teams: they have to do Route X !
Crossover/Hybrid, E-Gazelle Auto and E-Gazelle Buggy/Prototype Classes , won’t be able to take on the “big” dunes, but their route is no day at Copacabana beach ! Rutted oueds followed by equally treacherous sandy oueds…headings that are easy to lose track of… Even for them, the day will not be an easy one.
In the evening, at the bivouac, everyone will be swapping stories of the day’s adventures, victories and troubles, excited and proud after their day in the dunes. And don’t worry… there is more to come !
During Leg 2, in the dunes of ERG CHEBBI, competitors in AUTO/TRUCK Class must choose between 3 routes with different levels of difficulty.
These three routes, called X, X and Z, all have CPs in the sand, but different levels of difficulty.
Route X is the most challenging. Route Y is intermediate and Route Z is the most accessible, remaining in an area of low dunes.
Naturally, the values of the CPs reflect the level of difficulty of the chosen route.
A team that reaches all CPs of Route X, will only be penalized the extra kilometres driven over the ideal “crow flies” distance.
Teams that reach all CPs of Route Y will receive an additional penalty of 120 kilometres in addition to the extra kilometres driven over the ideal distance.
Teams that complete Route Z will receive an additional penalty of 240 kilometres, in addition to the extra kilometres driven over the ideal distance.
During this leg QUAD/MOTO/SSV teams must take Route X.
CROSSOVER/HYBRID, E-GAZELLE BUGGY/PROTOTYPE and E-GAZELLE AUTO teams will have their own route outside the dunes.
But 3 vehicles will be spending the night outside the bivouac: 221, 182 and 249.
Team 131, which had some trouble today, still made it all the way to CP6X, after doing Route Y.
The Gazelles then chose to take a paved road back to the bivouac, but took a wrong turning. 9 km from the bivouac, they encountered a difficult stretch of dunes, in the dark of night.
Will they make it back to the bivouac this evening?
The last teams are trying to beat the night that will soon fall over the dunes, while the assistance teams work on helping those who have pressed their green buttons.
182 and 249 have stopped moving and must be getting ready to sleep out under the stars, because it will be dark in 1/2 hour. That’s sure to be a wonderful memory!
Teams 126, 132, 178 and 27 are out of the dunes.
Teams who haven’t completed the course will have a choice to make, as the CPs are closing one after the other, with the last one closing up shop at 7:45 p.m.
Teams 229 and 152 are making for the bivouac by the road.
Team 249 is heading due east to get out of the dunes, to avoid having the setting sun in their eyes as they crest a dune.
Teams 174 and 196 are at CP5XY, and 160 and 161 are not far behind them.
And as they attempt to pitch their tents in a crazy wind, the last Gazelles are just leaving the dunes.
Following mechanical assistance, Team 229 is on the move again, but Team 221 is being transported by truck, as it cannot be repaired on site.
Teams 178, 126 and 132 are leaving the dunes to the north and heading directly to the bivouac.
The assistance team has finished with Team 134.
Team 240 has just crossed the finish line. It’s the fire truck, the Renault RVI M210, carrying Juliette Lepage, the young blind woman who dreamed of becoming a Gazelle!
They stuck to their heading all the way to CP1, same for CP2 although it took them a while to find it. Then on their way to CP3 they had a scare on the crest of a dune and decided to return to the bivouac. A wise decision, and well done, team!
The technical assistance team come to help Team 221 has delivered its verdict: a problem with the transmission oil casing. The vehicle will have to be towed out.
Slowly but surely the teams are starting to leave the dunes, although some have lost a lot of time, including 126 and 221.
Most of the teams are between CP4 and CP6.
As it does every evening, the wind is starting to rise. Thermal winds are generated as the high temperatures of the day begin to drop, and today was very hot.
Several teams have had to call for mechanical assistance technique by pressing the famous green button.
Teams 126, 221, 171, 42, 27 and 236 are currently receiving assistance. Some of them will be on their way soon.
4 teams appear to have given up and returned to the bivouac. They had all chosen the Z route.
We catch up with the Gazelles of Team 222, the ones who started at 11:45 this morning after spending the night in their vehicle. They have passed CP2Z.
Teams 185 and 201, who also spent the night out in the desert, are now heading back to the bivouac after passing CP3Z. Along the same route, Team 117 has made the same decision.
They are all Rallye regulars! The Gazelles of teams 125, 147, 216 and 238 are driving the exact same route just minutes apart and have passed CP6X.
Teams 39 and 46 have left CP6X and are heading for CP7. Not far to go now to get out of the dunes.
Teams 23, 30, 44 and 47 are between CP5 and 6, and appear to have stopped for lunch. Bon appétit!
Further back, Teams 20 and 37 are at 5X: take heart ladies, you’re on the right track! Teams 27 and 42 bring up the rear. Team 42 called for assistance at 4X, and the assistance team is currently there with them.
At the head of the pack, the first teams to reach the CPs are the most agile. Team 35 hit CP6 at 1:45 at the same time as 43, who spent a little time at the checkpoint.
Team 25 just passed CP6, and 21 should reach it at any moment.
The Gazelles of Team 302 have been going back and forth since 9 o’clock this morning, desperately searching for CP2S.
Meanwhile Crossover 301, after deviating from its heading, is approaching CP4S.
Team 308 is still looking for 4S but is finally getting close, while 300 passed it at 1:30 and is already heading for CP5.
Teams 303, 304 and 305 have left 4S in the direction of 5S. They are moving closely together.
E-Buggy 601 had a lot of zigzagging to do to get to CP4H. They are now heading for 5H, which they should reach at any moment.
It was the same story for 600, who have finally reached the checkpoint.
This morning in the dunes of Merzouga, a technical incident forced the organization to repatriate the vehicle, as it was no longer able to continue. Our Gazelles, Yousra and Anne-Charlotte, are fine and are back at the bivouac.
Are the dunes fighting back? teams 27 and 42 are stuck 100 metres from each other, Team 113 has broken down and is waiting for mechanical assistance. Team 150 is currently being towed off a plateau, and Team 202 has launched a technical alert and we are waiting for more information.
Team 102 got stuck in the sand and called for mechanical assistance, but ended up getting themselves out and are on the move again
Team 229 has rolled in the dunes, halfway between CP4X and CP5X.
The Gazelles were more shaken than hurt, but the car is still on its side. A mechanics team will do its best to turn it over as quickly as possible and get the team going again.
4 Quad/SSV teams have just hit CP6SX and are leaving the dunes for CP7SX (21, 25, 35 and 43).
E-Buggy 601 has just veered off course on the way to CP4H and is no longer heading in the right direction. The landscape is easy to read in this area, and it shouldn’t take them long to realize their mistake.
All the teams who played hooky last night have returned to the bivouac and all left before noon, heading for the dunes. In order, they are Teams 129, 162, 185, 201, 222, 230, 232, 233 and 239.
Team 222 is back! Just enough time to complete the formalities and off they go! Yesterday they got well and truly stuck in the sand, and it took them a lot of time to get moving again. After getting a little lost, they were caught out by the dark and decided to sleep in the car and make their way back in daylight.
Team 222 didn’t take the shortest route, but opted for the paved road that they know. The Gazelles are 20 km from the bivouac and should arrive around 11:45.