Photos of the organizers in action...
Vehicle conformity: an essential element of the competition
At the "vehicle conformity" workshop, Christian Viano, member of the mechanics team, checks that the vehicles comply with the Rallye's mechancal standards, including the odomoter wiring, an essential element of this competition. Because the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is a competition based, not on speed, but on performance. The goal is to drive the shortest distence possible, based on old-fashioned dead-reckoning navigation using maps and a compass...
Chief cameraman for the Rallye
Chief cameraman for the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc for the past 11 years, Christophe transports his video camera to sports events and documentaries around the world. So how does one of the chief cameramen of the Paris-Dakar view the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles? Silence on the set! Rolling.... and Action!
"Here, there is a lot of emotion - we concentrate on the human aspect and the solidarity between Gazelles, which is pretty incredible". And therein lies the difference between the Rallye and a traditional speed race: although the legs are between 10 and 12 hours long and the Gazelles have no time to waste if they want to hit all of the checkpoints, there are many opportunities to interact with and get to know the other teams: "Here, even those at the top of the rankings stop to help the others".
Although he and his team are always setting up shots to capture the action, the main focus is the human aspect. A focus that is often very emotional, and Christophe isn't ashamed to admit that, every year, he has "tears in his eyes at the arrival in Essaouira". This year, André Manoukian's improvised concert at the bivouac at 4:00 in the morning brought tears to his eyes long before Essaouira.
Meeting the Nomads of the desert
When Mohamed Oufkir, Head of Logistics in Morocco for the Rallye, offers to accompany her when she left the bivouac to deliver a wheelchair to 86-year old water diviner Ouchaouch, Marina Vrillacq, Heart of Gazelles President, did not hesitate.
Mohamed doesn't need a GPS, he grew up in Merzouga and knows every trail like the back of his hand. He drove us straight to the little earthen house, whose inside walls are painted blue.
"Moha" met Ouchaouch when Heart of Gazelles dug a well in the village to provide the local families with clean water. This time, he has come with a wheelchair for the old diviner, who has difficulty walking.
We drink the traditional glass of tea, Mohamed translates. Ouchaouch's leg is swollen; the decision is made to send a vehicle to collect him and his family and take them to see the Heart of Gazelles Medical Caravan doctors.
Just another example of the generous spirit surrounding the Rallye...
Press pilots: organizers at the heart of the action
At the Rallye, Gazelles are hunted... with cameras and video equipment. To obtain the 2500 photos sorted and tagged every day by the photo unit and the 8 hours of video "rushes" required every day in order to put together the news capsules sent by satellite to TV stations all over the world, the 15 press pilots have an essential role to play. Without their off-road driving experience and navigation skills, it would be impossible to capture the best moments of the Rallye. Need images of Team 124? No problem, Gérard Vidal, 3rd Rallye and longtime desert adventurer, contacts the Race PC by radio for the team's position and direction. Once the coordinates are entered into his GPS, instinct takes over to find the best route to intercept the team. No time to waste, the cameramen, photographers or journalists on board his rally-fitted HDJ80 count on him to obtain the images and information they require. "The goal is different every time, with new challenges, a real treasure hunt!". It is also an occasion for him to introduce his passengers to a country for which he has a real passion, a passion shared by all of the organizers, and which makes the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc so unique.
A forward-thinking rally
You have probably noticed the Challenge Eco-Conduite Logica
button to the right of our website: since last year, a Logica team has worked at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles to monitor and reduce CO2 emissions
by rewarding the team with the most eco-friendly driving...
33 dedicated mechanics - including the first woman!
While our Gazelles are sleeping peacefully, their vehicles are in the hands of the 4 mechanics workshops that form the heart of the Rallye's nighttime activities. The 33 mechanics are divided into 4 workshops that share the job of checking and repairing the vehicles every night according to priority...
Adriana Karembeu with Heart of Gazelles
Gazelle in 2006, Adriana Karembeu joined the Heart of Gazelles Medical Caravan today after cheering on the competitors at the start line. She was welcomed by André Manoukian, Patron of the Association, on behalf of the team...
The radio relay team
In order to coordinate the teams of Rallye organizers out on the terrain, the organizer vehicles must all be linked by radio. The problem is that the range of radio is limited... Impossible to cover the 200 km per leg without installing "radio relays" o enable communication over longer distances.
Obviously, the higher the relay, the wider the range. That means climbing the highest points along the route, completely inaccessible by vehicle. In addition to the helicopter, two ground teams are deployed for this mission. A mission that is indispensible but not easy: once the vehicle has driven as far as it can up the mountain, the rest of the distance must be covered on foot, loaded down with heavy material.
This morning, we followed Alain Lauber of "Radio Team 2". He set out at 04:30 with his team for Mount Gara Es Sbaa. Tents and camping gear are left behind, as we plan to return to the foot of the dunes where we spent the night. We abandon the 4x4 after an hour of trail and our muscles get to work, taking us up across the rough, sharp stony surface. 1:30 later, we have our reward: a spectacular 80-km view, alone in the middle of nature. Alain's last word before we leave the team: "This is one of the most difficult jobs at the Rallye, but when I think about it, it's the best experience of my life..."