the rankings remain provisional in case of modifications imposed before the start of the next special stage)
WEDNESDAY APRIL19th 2019
FOUM ZGUID - ZAGORA : 319 KM
With a high level worthy of the most difficult rallies, Gert Duson and Jean-Claude Kaket have planned something new in the program of this 5th stage. Incredible scenery and rolling tracks with a first crossing of dunes accompanied the caravan on this beautiful day of 319 kilometers to Zagora.
Another intense day today with a great variety of landscapes and a nice navigation on the program. No pebbles today but many sandy slopes. After 70 kilometers, many of them on jumping sections, they were finally able to discover what they have been waiting for for so long: the dunes of the Erg Chegaga for about fifty kilometers.
From CP2, the route has become even more spectacular. After 8 kilometers through a wide wadi, in the south of Mhamid, they entered a magnificent lunar scenery very little known until now. Then, we had to slalom for 35 kilometers, while slipping between small bumps and dead trees.
The last part of the stage, between Mihamid and Zagora, was a mix of dunes, fast sandy tracks, stony passages in the hills, a palm grove and some small villages where you had to respect the speed limit between 30 and 50 km / h.
SSV #216 Gianernesto Astori
“The two last stages were really challenging for us; today we have faced a section of dunes not so high but with soft sand and high temperatures and before the lunch stop a sandstorm made driving so difficult. Stony ground and fast tracks did the rest. Gert does not give gifts to anyone: these are true dakarian stages. We’ll wait the dunes of Merzouga: tomorrow stage will be for sure amazing!”.
Truck #503 Siarhei Viazovich
“Morocco Desert Challenge is our first rally-raid in Africa: we are having a lot of fun, our MAZ truck has no problem and each day we try to improve ourselves. In today stage, from Foum-Zguid to Zagora, during the first part of the race we drove faster but after the lunch stop we decided to go slowly to take any risk and we arrived second in the daily ranking. Also my teammate Aliaxsei Vishneuski made a good race, he enjoyed this stage and he is ready for the dunes of Merzouga”.
SSV #212 Vincent Gonzalez
“I made twice the Merzouga Rally but this year I choose to be at the start of another rally-raid: many people spoke me well about Morocco Desert Challenge, its organisation, friendly atmosphere, difficult tracks and good food. So I decided to come here. And I’m really happy for this because I’m having a lot of fun. Tomorrow we’ll have a lot of sand in Merzouga, I hope to make a good race”.
“Another stage with difficult navigation due to multiple tracks, with very variable visibility, this seems to be the constant of the rally. We had our first dunes today, at Erg Chegaga, and even if I knew them from previous rallies, the sand is always a challenge. However, the waypoints were “open” across the erg, so going through the dunes was very easy; to be honest, I like waypoints that “close” at the dunes because that’s the real test of your navigation skills. Skyler and I were a bit cautious during the first half of the stage, both avoiding mistakes that can be very costly, but after the refueling I went into “full attack” mode, and I managed to squeeze a couple of minutes from him, which put me at the front of the stage and reinforced a bit my overall lead. The difference among is minimal, however, so I’m sure the fight among us is going to be hard until the last kilometer of the rally.”
“Very difficult stage today, with navigation that I found particularly difficult, as there were many different tracks to choose from. Joan caught me quickly after the start, and we started alternating positions at the front, as you have to go slower when you open the race, if you want to avoid making mistakes, this always opens overtaking opportunities to the second. In addition to the navigation challenges, I found the terrain very hard, full of rocks. I have similar terrain back home in Utah, but never for such long distances. All in all, I keep learning every day, and it’s fun to race Joan, as he is not only fast and experienced, but also a very nice guy. I’m also enjoying the landscapes we are passing by, never raced along a herd of camels! I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, as it will be my first contact with the African dunes.”
“It wasn’t as hard as they told us at yesterday’s briefing; don’t take me wrong, it was hard, there were lots of stones but after yesterdays briefing I was expecting more or less to spend the night in the desert, so I’m positively surprised that wasn’t the case and I got here at a reasonable time. In terms of navigation, the first part of the stage was complicated, but after a number of cars and trucks passed me in the second part, I just had to focus on staying on the tracks they were leaving. I’m having a lot of fun in this race, looking forward to the next stages!”