Around the Rally

La Poste: introducing the Quadeo

By now everyone is familiar with its yellow silhouette. The Quadéo, an electric vehicle provided for the use of the Organizers by la Poste, did not require the same special preparation as the vehicles competing in the event.
Shuttling valiantly about the bivouac, the Quadéo requires only a few hours to charge and is silent and manoeuvrable; it fits into the environmental attitude of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles.
It has become an indispensible tool for moving quickly between the various sectors of the bivouac.


Night shift with the mechanics

They are at the heart of the Rallye but at a distance of a hundred metres from the rest of the bivouac.
There they have their own space and live to a different rhythm than the rest of the tent village. While the Gazelles are sound asleep, they are working by the light of powerful projectors.

Their kingdom is an open-air workshop...


A Gazelle without her SOLEIL SUCRE Vest? Unthinkable!

Every year, this indispensable and obligatoiry accessory habille les competitors in a different colour. For this 2012 edition, Elisa Cohen, creator of Soleil Sucré lingerie voulu avec ses équipes, apporter toute la femininity à ce gilet. Pratical, il n'omet pas d'être joli et actuel, donnant ainsi une chance à un  élément de rallye de devenir fashion accessory.
This year, the initial reaction to the fuschia pink vest with khaki accents was mixed. Too "girly"! But after a few days, the verdict is unanimous: "it's sexy"! According to Quebec Gazelle Catherine "It shows off our tans, it's magnificent". For the Organizers, the tone is more sober: the colour of sand with khaki epaulettes. Louise, Rallye sheriff, prefers this no-frills look.
But the crucial question remains: what happens to the vest after the Rallye? The Gazelles conserve it carefully. And some don't even wash it. "Too many memories"! says Louise. The men, predictably, claim to be less fetishist:  some give theirs away, here - where they are very popular - or to a friend back home.
But we bet that many of the men's vests will end up hanging in the wardrobe next to those from previous editions...


Bivouac doctors

The medical team is never more happy than when they are sitting around doing nothing at the bivouac. Led by Julien LORBER, the team sets up its clinic at every bivouac, ready to deal with any eventuality. Gazelles and organizers have access to medical care 24 hours a day.
While every Gazelle is required to [...]


Eco-driving: un innovative concept at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

Good driving is one thing; driving intelligently is another. This year, for the first time, eco-driving will be taken into account in the General Ranking for Crossover Class [...]




Partner in diversity

Total, Rallye partner for the past 15 years, has been represented by 22 different countries at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc over the years. This happy coincidence aside, every year Total enters several corporate teams to promote and empower its female employees throughout the world.
11 teams are representing Total at this 22nd edition, including 6 teams from its African subsidiaries. It is worth noting that this year Total has entered two Indonesian teams, Teams 159 (Tri SETIYAWATI and Fitri MARYANTI - Total) and 160 (Bernadeta-Darina KUSBRAHMIANI and Asti-Ayuningtyas SURAKUSUMA - Total) - the very first Indonesian competitors in the event's history!






Meet the Gazelles: Let's do it!

When asked why they decided to take part in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, American Gazelle Team 107 (Amy LERNER and Tricia REINA - American Expedition Vehicles) answer, with shining eyes: "It all went so fast. I read an article in the newspaper, then I went on the Rallye Website and it was crazy! I called my sister and she said 'Let’s do it!' "
Result: our American Gazelles are currently in 10th place [after Leg 5] in 4WD/Truck class: a solid performance for their second Rallye!



Meet the Gazelles: a mother-daughter team

Emilie, the daughter, at the wheel, explains: "I have dreamed of doing the Rallye for 3 years. I asked my mother if she wanted to do it with me."

Patricia, the mother and navigator, rectifies: "Hmm... she didn't exactly ask me; she said 'You are coming!' "

They exchange a complicit smile. Clearly, this mother and daughter  in their Isuzu D-Max number 116 (Emilie LEGOFF and Patricia LEGOFF - ITAFRAN) make a good team!


Total tank truck: providing fuel 24/24


Parked not far from the mechanics area, the Total Tank Truck fills the reservoirs of the Gazelles every day. The tank holds 25 tons of diesel and 6 tons of Super unleaded, in 5 compartments.
This is enough to fuel the 250 Rallye vehicles (Gazelles and Organizers) for 3 days. Then a second truck takes over.
Over the course of the event, Maïenga orders about 70 tons of fuel from Total. The fuel is transported from Casablanca to Nejjakh, location of the first bivouac and the start of the competition. A team of  9 trained pump attendants man the pumps all day long, but obviously it is at the end of a long day of competition that they are at their busiest.


The Rallye in the eyes of... Bruno Solo


"I like the philosophy of this rally: it is different from other events that drive through a country without seeing it. I also like the aspects of cooperation and navigation without complex tools, and of course, the Medical Caravan. I accompanied the Caravan today and found it impressive for many reasons, such as the many cataract operations. And then there are the Gazelles: I find them very moving with their obvious fatigue and at the same time their joy every time they get behind the wheel. In my M6 capsules, I assume the somewhat quirky attitude of those macho "guys" who feel threatened, or those whose excessive enthusiasm for their wives' participation seems a little suspicious! Of course, I do have a favourite team: the one competing for Voix de l’Enfant, an organization that is fighting against paedophilia (Samantha STEVENS and Sally DOMINGUEZ, Team 168 - Volkswagen Véhicules Utilitaires). I am actively involved with this organization all year round, especially on issues concerning incest. And I have a soft spot for Team 178 (Martine LUSSON and Lyndia JAMIN - Chevallier Construction) who came to see me when I was filming in Havre, knowing that I was Rallye Patron. They invited me out for a drink with them and their boyfriends. It was really nice!"



Sylvia, Team 210


"I was worried about how I would deal with living at the bivouac, but in fact, when I crawl into my tent, I just fall asleep right away. I am being careful to manage my fatigue. I'm in bed by 9:30 every night. At the first bivouac, I was sleeping by 8:30! A new experience for me!" laughs Sylvia of Team 210 (Emmanuelle SAULNIER and Sylvia LEDOUX - Gimag)


Meet the Gazelles: the support of 1200 women

Marie Blachère, founder of the bakery of the same name, has teamed up with Sandy Dalhery at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc to make Team 104 (Isuzu - NRJ Groupe - Ashinaga). For this manager of a business with 2000 employees including 1200 women, [...]







Kitchen and company

He is never seen. Standing behind the restaurant tent, arms crossed, he directs his troops. Without him, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc would not have the same flavour. Essoujaa Badr fills the some 600 stomachs at the bivouac, morning, noon and night.


A Post Office in the middle of the desert

Sur le bivouac du Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, deux tentes se distinguent par leur couleur jaune. Un jaune sans comparable, qui rappelle immédiatement celui...


Backstage: working in the shadows

Among the Organizers of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, there are some who are rarely to be seen at the bivouac: the Radio Relay and Course Opener Teams [...]








The bivouac: Guided tour of a village in the middle of the desert

At the end of each leg, the Gazelles’ final destination is the bivouac. This may be in the same place they left it in the morning, when the leg has the form of a "looped route", or it may be several hundred kilometres away, when the day’s leg involves a straight route. The latter case includes the two 2-day Marathon legs.







The Rallye Control Centre - a real control tower

Active 24/24, the Rallye Control Centre (RCC) constantly surveys the competition's progress and directs [...]








The Rallye in the eyes of... a helicopter pilot


Sur le Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, il y a celles et ceux qui se déplacent en 4x4, en camion, en buggy, en RZR, en quad, en moto ou encore en Quadéo, véhicule [...]







Women@Renault Dacia Duster: generosity of spirit


Among the 6 Women@Renault Dacia Duster teams entered in the event, two extremely generous women are representing the Cléon factory (Haute-Normandie), manufacturer of Renault engines and gearboxes.


Céline is a night-shift machine operator. Dynamic, sporty and cheerful, she spends part of her free time working with the Red Cross and Banque alimentaire de Seine-Maritime [local food bank].


Her teammate,  Ingrid, a production unit manager, shares the same convictions: she is also a Red Cross volunteer, as well as a first-aid officer with her local emergency services unit . 


In short, the Gazelle spirit is perfectly embodied in this duo competing as Team 317.







Meet the Gazelles: The Problem Box


One look at the faces of Team 129 (Sylvie BOUET et Mélanie COURSON - SNAPA), met at the finish line of Leg 1 by Ranking Officials Jean and Teresa, is enough to see that those present are about to experience a moment to remember!




Backstage: handing over prohibited items



The two large metal cases next to the finish line contain thick padded envelopes, each identified by a team number. Every Gazelle places her prohibited equipment in her envelope at the end of the Prologue. These items will be returned to them after the last leg of the competition, in Foum Zguid.


Mobile phones make up the majority of the items collected. According to Louise Bergeron, Rallye sheriff, "There are a lot of them because most of the competitors have more than one. Personal phone, work phone, French phone, Moroccan phone… But overall, there are fewer than in previous years." A sign that the Gazelles are respecting the rules? Remember that the Rallye is based on traditional navigation using only basic tools and no outside help; smartphones or computers with GPS features are strictly forbidden. The teams in the lead will be systematically checked for compliance, and random searches will be carried out on the terrain.


Starting this evening, La Poste, Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc event partner, will take over as the Gazelles' link to the outside world. By 21:30, our two desert postal workers had already printed and distributed almost 1000 messages sent to the Gazelles by their friends and families, in less than 4 hours.


Focus: Buggy wonderland!

There are three of them, ready for the competition, lined up as though on parade in the stifling parking lot of Hotel Xaluca








Meet the Gazelles: a well-prepared team


At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, we caught up with Team 127 (Sandrine BOUTONNET and Nelly FOURNIER -, our team from Aveyro (France), completely absorbed in the task of the last verifications.

The two rookie Gazelles are feeling more than confident about confronting the sands of the Moroccan desert. Sandrine and Nelly spent several months prepping their massive orange truck, with the help of friends and family: fridge, compressor, shower... All of the essentials for optimal comfort. And our Gazelles are proud of it!

In making this dream a reality, a dream that began some fifteen years ago, our Gazelles have left nothing to chance. They even spent some time in Morocco to practice and prepare, and left feeling reassured about their upcoming aventure.
In fact, when asked how they see the challenge ahead, this is their reply: "At first we were expecting it to be more difficult, even though I'm sure that once we're actually there it will be a hundred times harder! The biggest challenge was finding sponsors, but now here we are, thrilled to be here!"



Meet the Gazelles: The pride of Portugal

Elisabete JACINTO, professional pilot, is driving for Volkswagen this year. But there has been a last-minute change: she will be behind the wheel of a 4x4 Amarok instead of the Crafter originally planned, for her 4th edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. "It would have been a challenge to drive the Crafter, but Volkswagen made the right decision. It wouldn't have been ready in time for the competition".  This year, Elisabete will be competing under number 203, along with compatriot Sophia CARVALHOSA. "She has been my Gazelles teammate right from the beginning; we make a good team".



Meet the Gazelles: Women of honour

Céline PELICIER and Linda SALADO, Team 227 (Objectif pub Agde), both municipal police officers, are competing for the first time. What inspired them to want to be a part of the Rallye? Following one of their friends live on the Rallye Website during last year's edition. And now it's their turn! They have been the object of teasing from some of their their colleagues... "Women with compasses and 4WD trucks! That's what we kept hearing around the police station. But as we get closer to the starting date, our colleagues are being increasingly supportive. Some of them helped us with our off-road driving," explains Céline. In order to attend the Rallye, they let their vacation days accumulate in 2011. Extremely motivated, they confess to one source of nervousness: "the Merzouga dunes...".

Meet the Gazelles: Already in Gazelle mode


Team 313 (Emmanuelle LECAMUS and Barbara CAS) is in the starting block, driving a Duster for La Poste.
Emmanuelle and Barbara passed the rigorous La Poste selection process. For these Gazelles, to be chosen from among 600 candidates is already a victory.
Reassured by their navigation and driving training, they are calm in the face of the challenge to come. "We are both very active. I added some jogging and weightlifting to my workouts to be in better shape" explains Barbara.
And for those moments when the morale is low, she has brought along her security blanket, faithful sleeping companion for the past 25 years!



Meet the Gazelles: Gazelle Motivation


For a first participation, they are off to a good start. Thanks to their main sponsor, Génération 4x4, Jessica DUC and Audrey BRIZE (Team 225), a notary and a dentist respectively, and sisters-in-law in real life, are taking part in the Isuzu Challenge. They had time to chat with us between posing for photos.
"It was a question of meeting the right people at the right time. And, of course, the desire to do it... We took a trip to Botswana and our husbands hardly let us drive the truck... Now it's our turn: we're going to have some fun!"
Printed on their travel bags, the word "Dressing". Inside, everything they will need for 10 days in the desert, as well as nail polish in 3 shades of pink, to go with the Soleil Sucré vest. "A gift from our friends. High class in the Atlas!"


Meet the Gazelles: Evening Dress


Without sponsors, Nathalie RATHOUIT and Marie-Laure BRICHE of Team  140, two nurses from Loire-Atlantique, financed  their rally by organizing fundraising evenings in the local town hall.
"We had such a hard time finding financing that we decided to try this system, but we also paid a lot out of our own pockets", exclaims Nathalie.
Their mood today: "Cool! Now that we're here, we're happy. The only thing that worries me is the boat - I tend to get seasick. For the rest, we'll see how it goes!".
A "cool attitude" due in part to the fact that, since our two gazelles had hoped to participate last year, they have several navigation and driving training courses under their belt.