Dirt, sweat, tears and many kilometers of desert sand lie between the competitors and the last checkpoint: The rally is slowly eroding the condition of every single Gazelle. And today of all days the 4X4 category faces a truly hellish journey: The wandering Merzouga dunes. Deep, soft sand as far as the eye can see! Difficult navigation because the dunes all look the same and are in constant motion. That is why the rally women cannot rely on the old contour map. Another difficulty: It is essential to find the first checkpoint because this is where the competitors receive the rest of the data for this leg. Six return to the bivouac without ever having reached the checkpoint. For them this leg is over.
Fate strikes Mercedes Team 320 at 8 a.m. Although Susanne and Coralie succeed in freeing their vehicle from the sand dune themselves, the front right drive shaft is damaged. So wheel off, suspension strut removed and drive shaft replaced. However the suspension strut simply refuses to return to its original position and despite the support from the lady mechanics from team 318 it is time to call the service team. The Vito is ready to roll again in only a few minutes. Summary: 3.5 hours of back-breaking work and 200 penalty points. For now, there is no chance of winning. Team 318, with Sabrina and Larissa, has better luck. Although they stopped to help their colleagues change the drive shaft and then had to make haste, they easily find the initial checkpoints. Unfortunately, they lose their way with their Sprinter and have to drive directly to the bivouac – missing two checkpoints. The result: Fifth place overall with 228 penalty points. Sabrina and Astrid have their finest hour. The Gazelles make a good start, navigate outstandingly as a team and reach all of the checkpoints. They arrive at the bivouac happy after a hard-fought day. Well done and keep it up! The result: Fourth place overall with 185 penalty points. The Mercedes ladies can be proud of their performance. Because long after dusk 16 teams are still out in the desert. Where they have to spend the night – among the moving Merzouga dunes.