The Rallye has finally begun!

Leg 1

Barely over the start line, the teams stop to set a heading to their first checkpoint or to air down their tires a little for the sand ahead. Just 2 km from the bivouac, many vehicles already get stuck in the small dunes. A certain feverish excitement can be felt in the novices, or is it overconfidence?

It’s not even 8 o’clock in the morning, and the sand already seems soft. This is September, and it’s hot. The temperature can reach 40 degrees in the daytime, at it barely cools off at night. It’s going to be a long day. And calls for assistance are to be avoided at all cost.

Stuck in the sand

Team 127 (Corinne CATROS / Sophie GILLES)manage to get out of their predicament quite easily. With a bit of shovelling and the help of their sand ladders, the job is done. Further on, the Gazelles of Team 177 (Emilie LOGET / Nina LEBELLENGER), who are taking part in their first rally with their Toyota, also get stuck on a fairly steep slope. Lying in the sand under the vehicle to remove as much as possible, they admit, out of breath, that they fear the worst. They are joined by another, more experienced, team, who provide some advice. The driver puts it in reverse, the vehicle clears the sand, and they are back on their way.

Further on, a 4×4 is in a bad position, straddling the crest of a dune. It’s definitely going to be an eventful day!  Once out of the dunes, the sand gives way to a desert of stones (reg) that will lead the teams to their first CP (checkpoint).

The excitement of the first CP

As there are several classes, there are several routes. As there are many teams in 4X4 Class this year, they have been divided up onto 6 different routes, which may have some checkpoints in common. A given checkpoint (CP) may be common to several routes.

When a team reaches its first checkpoint, the CP attendant gives them their road book for the day with the geographic coordinates of each checkpoint.

That’s it, they’ve reached the first CP

Some Gazelles choose to plot all the checkpoints on their map and prepare all their headings in advance. Others prefer to plot their route as they go along. The two teammates agree on who will drive and who will navigate, but they can exchange roles at any time. The navigator must direct the team by selecting the best route. The driver must ensure that she can safely cross any obstacles and deviate as little as possible from the chosen heading.

Team 100 (Sabine SYREN / Sophie EBERLE), both of whom are company directors with 4 children, are delighted to be here and almost feel as though they are on vacation, to the point of lacking concentration and going to the wrong checkpoint. This mistake will cost them several penalty points.

The buggy of Team 601 (Marta PARDO / Nahide ENNAM)has some mechanical issues that force the team to stop every 500 metres, which doesn’t keep them from laughing.

Team 502 (Véronique GIUDICELLI / Christine VIALA)manages to cross the vast stretch of sand, checking their position regularly to find the best way through and reach the next CP without getting stuck.

The challenge continues

CP follows CP but they are not all the same. Despite the afternoon heat that reaches 38 degrees and strong winds that blow the sand around, the teams push on, determined to reach all their checkpoints. The competition has well and truly begun.

Most teams reached all (or most) of their checkpoints and crossed the finish line happy with their first day. They are ready for tomorrow’s leg, even if many of them are dreading the dunes…