The streets of Sete, France will be lined with fans and spectators Saturday, March 19th to cheer on 220 women representing 16 countries as they compete in the 21st edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. For 2011, the noted grueling Franco-Moroccan rally will be marked by an increase in United States participation.
The rally pushes competitors for fifteen days – nine days of competition, six days of inspections, transits and ceremonies in France and primarily Morocco. It stands apart from other off-road events where the competition’s goal is to finish with the fewest number of kilometers as opposed to finishing with the fastest time. The rally is open to professionals but teams are primarily amateurs with a serious sense of adventure. Outdated maps, no GPS, no cell phones and no support crews add to the challenge, pushing each driver and navigator to their limit. There is no prize money at the finish, just accomplishment and pride.
Three Americans will be competing this year, hailing from both coasts. Emily Miller, professional off-road racer, returns for her third competition with French navigator and 2008 rally winner, Armelle Medard to form Team #109. The American-French duo are slated the team to watch in 2011.
Newcomers to the rally are team #107 comprised of sisters Amy Lerner and Tricia Reina. Growing up in a family that loved cars and racing, they began training last year for the specifics of the unique format. Lerner will take the role of pilot and Reina will primarily handle the navigation duties.
Joining the United States competitors will be the rally’s first American sponsor, Pompeian Olive Oil (www.Pompeian.com). “The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles and Pompeian join together to support and celebrate the inspiring stories of everyday women who are driven to compete,” declared Pompeian’s Marketing Manager, David Bensadoun. “In addition, the rally’s dedication to humanitarian efforts and environmental initiatives are in alignment with the values we share at Pompeian. We are honored to be a part of an inspiring, eco-friendly and influential event.”
Those interested in learning more and following the rally can track it live via satellite by visiting www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com. To follow the progress of the United States effort, join on Facebook at U.S.A. Gazelles.
ABOUT THE RALLYE AÏCHA DES GAZELLES:
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles was created in 1990 by Dominique Serra. The event, held annually in Morocco, is owned and produced by Maïenga Communications, France. In addition to serious competition, the rally is known and respected for extensive humanitarian and environmental efforts. Focused initiatives combined with staff and competitor support have brought significant improvement to the health and welfare of the region and serve as an environmental example to other rallies being the only off-road event in the world to achieve ISO 14001 certification. To learn more, log on to www.rallyaïchadesgazelles.com.