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.