More than 1000 people gathered in the marquee tent in Essaouira onSaturday, March 31, 2018 to ring out the 28th Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in style. A total of 165 teams, including 6 electric vehicles, participated in the 28th edition of this one-of-a-kind adventure. It isthe world’s first international off-road Rallye race for women only. Since 1990, it has been bringing together women between the ages of 18 and 71, from more than 30 different countries, who embark on an adventure of a lifetime from the French city of Nice and onward to the start of the Rallye in the Moroccan desert. Participants of the 2018 rally included singer and actress Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and actressKiera Chaplin, who came in 3rd place in their e-vehicle category, and Monegasque royalty Pauline Ducruet competing alongside fashionista Schanel Bakkouche.
After spending 9 days deep in the Moroccan desert, the Gazelles enjoyed a prestigious gala evening in an immense white marquee tent across from the ramparts of Essaouira. In a fitting tribute to the former Mogador, the theme of this year’s gala was “Marine Marvels”.
Dominique Serra and the Governor of Essaouira opened the gala, inviting the 1,200 guests to stand and drink a toast with a glass of Tsarine champagne. The décor featured an aquarium, seashells, a sailboat and even a mermaid. Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, daughter of Prince Albert II of Monaco and a Gazelle of Team 504 (competing alongside actress Kiera Chaplin in the e-Gazelle Class), took to the stage to perform an original song at the commencement of the evening’s dinner. Further entertainment during the dinner was provided by belly dancers, sailors and acrobats. The winners of each category were then invited to the stage to receive gifts from event partners Aïcha, Saint Honoré and Afriquia.
Lively applause and a standing ovation were given to Marina Vrillacq, President of the Rallye’s non-profit, Cœur de Gazelles; and Frédéric Valat, Manager of the Cœur de Gazelles medical caravan; and all the event’s volunteers and partners. “We were able to perform 8,400 medical procedures thanks to our volunteers and the partners who support us and understand our needs. I wish to thank them, because without them, we could do nothing. The strength of Cœur de Gazellesis in its patient follow-up. My thoughts go out to each of them,” said Marina Vrillacq. Her speech was interrupted by tears, and Frédéric Valat took over: “Thanks to the 140 teams of Gazelles who stopped to visit us in the villages where we were set up. You are our best representatives. You are the ones who promote Cœur de Gazelles.” The evening ended with music as dinner gave way to the dance floor.
The 2018 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles winners and runners up were:
Expert Class (4×4/Truck): 1st place: Team 238 (Hélène GRAND’EURY & Charlotte ZUCCONI),
2nd place: Team 246 (Carole MONTILLET & Sylvie GODEAU GELLIE), 3rd place: Team 153 (Fabienne GALIDIE & Tania LIO-MARTINEZ).
4×4/Truck Class: 1st place: Team 238 (Hélène GRAND’EURY & Charlotte ZUCCONI), 2ndplace: Team 246 (Carole MONTILLET & Sylvie GODEAU GELLIE), 3rd place: Team 153 (Fabienne GALIDIE & Tania LIO-MARTINEZ).
Crossover/SUV Class: 1st place: Team 312 (Laetitia GIRAUD & Sarah SOURBIER), 2ndplace: Team 313 (Solen KERLEROUX & Carine POISSON), 3rd place: Team 310 (Sandrine MARTIAL & Isabelle FAUST).
Quad/SSV/Moto Class: 1st place: Team 28 (Elisabeth (Betty) KRAFT & Sonia BAUDOIN-GUERARD), 2nd place: Team 27 (Prune SALTI & Elisa BOULAND), 3rd place: Team 26(Amélie DELACHESNAIS & Emilie CAZAL).
E-Gazelles Category: 1st place: Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY & Clothilde HAMION), 2ndplace: Team 502 (Mélanie MOR & Delphine MIQUEL), 3rd place: Team 504 (Kiera CHAPLIN & Jazmin GRIMALDI).
First Participation Class (“First Participation” Class rewards teams who are participating in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc for the first time.): 4×4/Truck Class winner: Team 139 (Léa GOULLIEUX & Laetitia BERTIN), Quad/SSV/Moto Class winner: Team 22 (Tracy MORANDIN & Valérie ROCHE), Crossover/SUV Class winner: Team 312 (Laetitia GIRAUD & Sarah SOURBIER), E-Gazelles Class winner: Team 503 (Natacha BORDRY &Clothilde HAMION).
(Photo Credit: Maienga)
ABOUT Rallye Aïcha de Gazelles
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is the first women-only off-road rally in the world. Created in 1990, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has been creating a new vision of automobile competition: no speed and no GPS, just old-fashioned navigation, completely off-road—a return to the roots of adventure. The only requirement is determination. The women who take part in this rally—known as “Gazelles”—are of all ages, social backgrounds, nationalities and levels of off-road experience. Whether in a 4×4, Crossover, Quad, truck, motorbike or electric car they all come to take part in a unique competition: whose competitors share the values of tolerance, solidarity and determination, that respects the host country and its people through the actions of the Rallye’s non-profit, Cœur de Gazelles, and that cares about the environment: the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is the only automotive rally in the world with ISO 14001 certification.
While the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles marks a return to the roots of adventure, it is also on the cutting edge of technology, with a satellite tracking system for optimal safety. We have been putting forward a new vision of motor sport for years, with the development of an event where the adventure lies in driving without excessive speed, and where the goal of driving the shortest possible distance is in line with our environmental commitment.
ABOUT Cœur de Gazelles
Coeur de Gazelles is a group of highly motivated volunteers working daily to provide people with the help they need. A registered non-profit organization since 2001, Coeur de Gazelles is committed to providing sustainable aid through concrete actions. Our cross-border efforts must remain strong to allow us to uphold our values and continue to help those who are the most in need.
Coeur de Gazelles works on projects that meet the needs of Morocco’s remote populations: medical care, education, the environment and sustainable development, job training for women, improving living conditions and a desire to spread joy by distributing donations. Our actions are established on a “human scale”: we work with the local population to address the source of the problem. We work with and for the most disadvantaged: our actions enable people to become agents of their own development. We work in a spirit of partnership: we do not create alternative structures; we strengthen and develop existing local ones. We work with low operating costs: all donations are used for the direct benefit of the population. Our actions are recognized by the Moroccan government: we work on legitimate projects in collaboration with local authorities.