Male Gazelles at the start line!
Unique event in the history of the Rallye: a team of men (yes, you read right, "men"), took the start among the Gazelles today. But not just any men: in one seat, David Casteu, 7 Dakars any many rallies under his belt, winner of several rally tropheys. In the other, unparalleled navigator Eric Loizeau, former teammate of Eric Tabarly, winners of several Transats and Grands Prix, in addition to climbing Everest. The Organization's objective in accepting their project of taking part in the Rallye? To bring two "professional sportsmen" from the world of automotive sport and navigation face to face with the unique concept of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. So some people think that a rally for women is a pleasure trip? Here is what our two male Gazelles have to say...
David Casteau at the start of the Prologue: "When I got here I was pretty relaxed, but as time passes I am beginning to stress because there is a lot of pressure on us. We are going to do our best to show what we can do... This is not what we're used to; it's going to be be quite a learning experience for us!"
Eric Loizeau at the start of the Prologue: "I think that it is a shame that navigators have become so dependent on GPS and electronics and are losing their traditional navigation skills. I am used to navigating at sea where there are no obstacles... luckily I am with an excellent driver so it should be fine. To be a good navigator you need to be smart, intelligent... it is not necessarily a skill exclusive to men!"
David Casteau after the Prologue: "Superb, superb! It is something completely new... we got lost right away, which forced us to really concentrate... It was great! And the navigation, finding points on a map, it was really interesting watching Eric at work. No shovelling yet; we will see what happens tomorrow!"
Eric Loizeau after the Prologue: "It's not easy; we found all 3 CPs, we had a hard time with the first one but the rest was easier. This is a lot different from being on a boat or on foot. It's interesting; real teamwork. And it's not easy for the driver either... he hasn't let me drive yet."
And the outcome of their Prologue? While the official results will not be published until midnight, Team 199 ends the prologue after finding the 3 CPs with 6.86 extra km over their ideal route of 39.6 km. An honourable performance for first-timers but the competition will be tough to beat: the leading team drove only... 530 metres over their ideal distance. Good luck, Team 199!