By Helene Clemenson
By Helene Clemenson
Morocco World News
Erfoud, Morocco, March 23, 2012
MWN special corespondent of the Rally Aicha des Gazelles, Helene Clemenson, is on site following the Gazelles participating in this two week raid in the Moroccan desert. As they embark on this life changing adventure, Ms. Clemenson will report stage information, rankings, conduct interviews and take photos to bring the whole experience to MWN readers.
The Gazelles started the day very early. As soon as they opened their eyes they had to start getting ready, rush for breakfast to make on time for the pre-departure briefing. It’s 6 am and the sun is rising on the bivouac and its surroundings. We can see a harsh terrain made of rocky hills and dunes. The teals position themselves on the grid and wait for the green light before galloping into this new adventure. A feeling of friendship can be felt on the starting line; the teams sent each other last words of encouragement as if to remind themselves that they had to stay united in the face of what was yet to come.
Covered in pink stickers with white wildcat palm marks, the car of the Moroccan team 193 (Tam Khagat- Amal Adyel) can be spotted from miles away. These Gazelles resemble more “pink panthers” and always show a smile even in times of frustration. Despite their determination, they started on the wrong just as they had done for the prologue yesterday, heading southwest, away from the first checkpoint; A navigation error that they caught up quickly before hitting the first checkpoint. Once they arrived at the checkpoint they carefully planned the rest of their route. Wise strategy that made the rest of the day much easier and got them passed the finish line before sunset.
Team 218 ( Benedicte Clarckson-Jamila Aitakka) were nowhere to be found the whole day. Only a few checkpoints were reached and at dawn, still no sign of the Gazelles. The Command Post was able to track their route and various locations through the race GPS system and mentioned a criss-cross route without going through all the checkpoints. Team 195 (Chamali- Annick Denoncin) , (a Moroccan team in heart )glided through the 1st Leg and finished in the top-tire: a team to look at for during the Rally.
This first stage of the race has had its share of joys, navigation mistakes, frustration and tears. Everything that makes this Rally so special and by the looks of it, this edition won’t be anything different.
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