The teams grow closer as solidarity and conviviality reign on stage 5

Leg 5

Leg 5 gets off to a flying start… and a flat tire for Mathilde and Edwige of Team 241 (Edwige TRUBERT / Mathilde MELAINE). Less than 100 metres further on, it’s the turn of Amandine and Delphine of Team 254 (Amandine MESQUIDA / Delphine GIMENEZ-FAIXA)to get out their jack. “I was afraid of getting stuck so I floored it”, explains Amandine. The Gazelles can count of the help of Kristell and Andréa of Team 161 (Andréa BEEL / Kristell PERRIGOT). In addition to the precious solidarity between Gazelles, Amandine’s husband placed several letters in the glove compartment, to be opened in the event of difficulties. “There was one for our first car trouble. When I opened it, it contained advice and words of comfort; it really cheered me up”, says the Gazelle, ready to get going again.

This being the eve of a marathon leg, many teams prefer to take it easy.We’re going to stick to the trails to rest and be in shape for the second marathon”, explain Najate and Lineda of Team 118 (Najate AHBABACH / Lineda ET-TAMIMI). This goal is shared by Kathleen and Caroline of Team 273 (Caroline DELPET / Kathleen TRANIER)who are determined to get back before nightfall. Others are less concerned about this and keep following their headings regardless, taking the difficulties as they come without too much planning. “For the moment it’s fine, we’re not really worried”, says Peggy of Team 264 (Magali LESCALLIER / Peggy ALEXANDRE).

Sand is definitely the main theme of this 30th edition. Between checkpoints 5 and 6, the Gazelles have to cross a row of small dunes, which they are not particularly excited about. “It’s still a big hassle to get through”, notes Aurélie of Team 209 (Aurélie BONVALET / Elisabeth MIRAS). Emmanuelle of Team 112 (Emmanuelle COSTANTINO / Ingrid RUEL)waits for other teams to arrive before venturing into the sand. No such luck: Élodie and Chloé of Team 232 (Elodie CALDERON / Chloé PLANCHON), who have just arrived, are not on the same route… No time to dilly-dally, the Gazelles retrace their steps. Fanette of Team 182 (Fanette CADOU / Vanessa PAILLET)hesitates as well: “When we get stuck even when it’s flat, it’s a bit worrying”. It is almost noon, and the sand is getting soft and difficult to handle despite airing down the tires before entering the dunes.

Shared moments and conviviality

The solution? For several teams to follow each other, to be able to intervene and help any team that gets stuck. That is what teams 118,119, 138 and 209 decide to do. Except that to drive together, you have to agree on the navigation… The herd of Gazelles quickly separates as each follows their own choices. The small dunes are followed by a oued and… more sand! The teams will certainly have earned CP6! After up to four hours of navigation in the scorching heat, the teams reach the famous checkpoint.

The big tamarisk tree at CP6 offers welcome shade for a well-earned break. Valérie, one of the Rallye marshals, makes sure all the Gazelles have plenty of drinking water, especially the quads and SSVs, who are happy to see each other. Each new arrival is applauded by the others, and there is a real feeling of solidarity among the teams of this category. The 4×4 are also quick to arrive. “Here we are!”, cries Elisabeth of Team 209 (Aurélie BONVALET / Elisabeth MIRAS)as they pull up. Pauline and Rhita of Team 201 (Rhita LOCHERON-JERRADE / Pauline GREISCH-CLOSTER)celebrate their arrival by dancing to “Tout donner” by Maître Gims. “It went so well – we’re really proud of ourselves”, laughs Pauline, inviting the other Gazelles to dance with her. Enjoying this moment of conviviality, the Gazelles of Team 177 (Emilie LOGET / Nina LEBELLENGER)promise to meet up later for a drink at the bivouac after a good shower!

But before the bivouac, there is still more driving to do! And the Gazelles need to save their energy for the marathon leg, which promises more sand… To give themselves a boost before tomorrow’s leg, New Zealand Gazelle Susan of Team 269 (Helen TAIT WRIGHT / Susan ALEMANN)suggests that the Gazelles get together for a “ladies-only” haka, a shared moment that is greatly appreciated by the teams. “Thanks for all your energy. That was great!”, exclaims Florence of Team 196 (Florence PHILIP / Valérie PRIOUL).