Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles: both SAINT HONORE crews on the podium!

The last days are all about adventure: a couple of two day-marathons close the rally, leaving the participants in total autonomy. Quite a challenge, especially since the desert is not always on their side! Let’s see how it went for both SAINT HONORE teams.

 

A challenging first marathon

Teams get started at 6 am, and for good reason: they have a long way to go. This Leg’s itinerary is 275 km long and the “Gazelles” need to reach 12 checkpoints, with no refueling or mechanical assistance. If the first 4 checkpoints are not found on day 1, they will be closed on the 2nd day: efficiency is essential from the start! Yet the area is not the easiest to drive through, with different types of terrain: sand, camel grass, oueds, rocky plains, a trail and the Tafenna cirque, with zigzags passes in and out. It was certainly no easy ride!

 


Carole Montillet-Carles and Sylvie Godeau Gellie crossing beautiful landscapes

 

The 246 crew with Carole Montillet-Carles and Sylvie Godeau Gellie had quite a lot to catch up on from previous days. Unfortunately, they accumulated mechanical issues; not only did they have battery troubles, but they also needed to change a shock absorber. However our “Gazelles” could count on team 107’s help; solidarity is at the heart of this rally! If team 246 has caught up on the first day, by driving through an area everybody else bypassed, these mechanical troubles slowed them down and they finished on the 6th place.

The Chaplin-Grimaldi duo handled this Leg pretty well, or at least did not have as many technical issues. The crew ended up 3rd at the end of this marathon, still bearing penalty points for previously losing their road book.

 


Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Kiera Chaplin, crew 504

 

Sleeping under a canopy of stars

Although there are no official camp during marathons, participants made the best out of it. They had planned ahead for their night, and several crews gathered at the end of the day for an impromptu bivouac in a relaxed mood.

 


Gazelles spend the night under the stars

 

The last 2 days are key on the rally

The second marathon is 235 km long and 11 checkpoints need to be found – these are the last days and though all “Gazelles” are tired, they gave it their all!

Although the first marathon went well, SAINT HONORE ambassador Kiera Chaplin and her teammate Jazmin Grimaldi struggled during this second one. Yet they refused to call mechanical assistance, and even if they spent up to 5h on some parts of the itinerary, they still kept a good position in the race.

 


A map and a compass to find their way, that's all!

 


Kiera Chaplin is searching for the best path

 

On the other hand, crew 206 (Carole Montillet-Carles and Sylvie Godeau-Gellie) performed very well. These rally experts succeeded in gaining almost 5 km on a close rival… and went up the general ranking.

 


Crew 246 easily riding the Moroccan dunes

 

Arrival and prize ceremony at Essaouira

All “Gazelles” arrived at Essaouira beach on Saturday at 9am. Horse riders in traditional costumes and a crowd of curious onlookers had gathered to welcome them. Rally crews paraded until the finish line in a chorus of horns and cheers, proud to have achieved this adventure. Smiles were all around!

 


Crew 246 very happy to cross the finish line in Essaouira

 

It was then time to announce the Rallye des Gazelles winners! Both SAINT HONORE teams performed brilliantly and we were proud to see them on the podium. Kiera Chaplin and Jazmin Grimaldi, from team 504, ended up 3rd in the e-Gazelles category. Our 206 duo with Carole Montillet-Carles and Sylvie Godeau Gellie won the 2nd place with their buggy.

 


Kiera and Jazmin reach the podium for the electric vehicle category

 


Second place for Carole and Sylvie in 4x4 category

 

A gala evening was then organized in an immense white marquee tent: for the event, pink jackets were swapped for beautiful dresses. Founder of Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles Dominique Serra opened the gala with the Governor of Essaouira; and Jazmin Grimaldi performed an original song. Our Gazelles are definitely very talented!

 


Jazmin Grace Grimaldi delights the closing night of the Rallye des Gazelles

 

During the ceremony, winners in each category were invited to the stage to receive gifts from the rally’s partners; Lutécia watches were thus offered by SAINT HONORE. The ceremony was then followed by dinner and everybody made their way to the dance floor to celebrate the end of the event… We will be eagerly awaiting next year’s edition!

 

Photos : Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc