LEG 6 TSARINE – MARATHON
OULAD DRISS – FOUM-ZGUID
LEG 6 TSARINE – MARATHON
OULAD DRISS – FOUM-ZGUID
With barely time to catch their breath, the Gazelles set off for the sixth and final leg… and a marathon leg to boot!
On one side, Djebel Bani (which means “old mountain”), on the other, Oued Draa, and in the middle, sand !
An endless stretch of small dunes, where it is impossible to stick to anything more than a rough heading, up, down, up, down… It’s enough to make even the most experienced Gazelles lose their bearings. And the wind ! Like yesterday’s leg, navigation in this area is not easy to begin with, and when the weather doesn’t cooperate, things become that much more complicated.
The strongest teams will tackle the dunes towards the end of this first day. Chegaga is less impressive than Merzouga, but you shouldn’t trust appearances alone. The feeling of “surfing” the dunes could quickly be dampened by an unstable or more exposed dune. The wind has also done its work here to complicate the task of our Gazelles. Whatever happens, the sand that was so maligned during the day will be a lifesaver in the evening. Impossible not to find a stretch of soft sand to pitch one’s tent and enjoy the evening. The weather should be mild, and it’s a safe bet that the evening will be festive before the last day of competition.
For the home stretch, the main objective will be to get out of Erg Chegaga. Whichever route they choose, the Gazelles will have to cross the Erg, a relatively difficult task. They must try to avoid wasting precious time getting stuck in the sand… it would be a shame to have to stop so close to the goal ! And then, once they have exited the lovely sandy hills of Chegaga, it will be time to head to the final bivouac. But not in a straight line: that would be too easy! There are still a few challenges ahead: Lake Iriqui and its baseless mountain, dinosaur ridges, “impassable” passes; the impenetrable cliffs of M’daouer… And then the Gazelles cross the finish line, an emotional moment filled with immense pride and joy at having completed the rally, but tinged with regret… not wanting the adventure to end, wanting just a bit more time in the desert…
During this second marathon leg, competitors in AUTO/TRUCK Class have 2 different routes to choose from.
The choice is between the classic route to which they have been assigned (route A-B-C-D-E-F) and Route X.
The classic routes go around the erg to the north and then drive across its least difficult section, while Route X drives straight through the heart of the dunes from EAST to WEST.
As on Leg 2, teams that choose the “classic” route will receive an additional penalty compared to those that take Route X.
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 their “classic” route will receive an additional penalty of 120 kilometres in addition to the extra kilometres driven over the ideal distance.
During this leg, QUAD/MOTO/SSV teams must take Route X, while those in CROSSOVER/HYBRID, E-GAZELLE AUTO and E-GAZELLE BUGGY/PROTOTYPE will have a special route that passes outside the highest dunes.
More and more teams are crossing the finish line! Tired but euphoric, the Gazelles will finally get to relax and enjoy one last night at the bivouac.
The majority of 4×4 teams are between CP6 and CP7 on Routes A, B, C, D, E. On Route F, a dozen teams are between CP6X and CP7X.
Most Quad/SSV teams (Route V) are between CP8 and CP9.
The Crossovers have split into 2 groups. The 1st is between CP8 and CP9, while the rest are between CP6 and CP7.
The E-Gazelle Auto Vinci Immobilier teams are heading for the bivouac, while the E-Gazelle Buggy/Prototype Vinci Immobilier teams have only one checkpoint to go.
Teams 42 and 101 are on their way to the bivouac.
A few teams are ahead of the pack on Route E and have just made CP 8
More than thirty teams have checked off CP 6X
Some thirty teams have made CP 5X
Due to extreme heat conditions forecast this afternoon, the competition management has decided to cancel the following CPs:
- Routes A, B, C, D, E and F (4×4 Class): The last 2 CPs are cancelled
- Route S (Quad/SSV Class): The last CP is cancelled
After a night under the stars, the Gazelles are back in action, setting their sights for the next checkpoint.
The Gazelles prepare their impromptu bivouacs between CP4 and 5, ready to spend another evening out under the stars. We wish them a pleasant and restful night before the final stretch tomorrow.
Team 133 is having mechanical issues.
Some twenty teams have reached CP4
More and more teams have been getting stuck since 1 p.m. but solidarity is still the order of the day.
Teams 216 and 267 got stuck in the sand but Team 147 came to their rescue. Lovely to see such solidarity between teams!
12 teams have reached the first CP on Route F
The Gazelles have started their last marathon leg!