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29th edition dedicated to Nasrin Sotoudeh


“Welcome and congratulations to all of you for taking the time, for having enough determination, courage and will to have made it here today. Give yourselves a big round of applause!” With these words, Dominique Serra, founder and director of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, welcomed this year’s Gazelles to the Palais Nikaïa in Nice.

This 29th edition is dedicated to Nasrin Sotoudeh, prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who removed their headscarves in public. “I would like her to know that free women are thinking about her. There is an online petition for her release: please don’t hesitate to sign it.

157 teams on the start line

This year, 157 teams will be taking part in this off-road rally across the Moroccan desert, for 15 unforgettable days of adventure aboard their all-terrain vehicles. 78% of this year’s 314 Gazelles are rookies, and 13 nationalities are represented (France, Switzerland, Belgium, UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Georgia, Lithuania, Morocco, Canada, USA). “I say it every year: the décor changes, the circumstances change. We are all doing this 29th edition together, and I hope that you will achieve your dreams.”  The Gazelles will be competing in 4 vehicle classes: 126 teams in 4×4 Class (including two trucks), 8 teams in Crossover Class, 13 teams in SSV/Quad Class and 10 teams in e-Gazelle VINCI Immobilier Class.

« A different woman at the end of the Rallye »

Cheffes d’entreprises, ingénieures, étudiantes,

Business executives, engineers, students, estheticians, doctors… the Gazelles represent more than 220 different occupations. They have come together from all walks of life to face the same challenge: drive the shortest possible distance along a defined route marked out with checkpoints. “Differences fade away during this rally, which means you can get back to the basics. The woman you are today is not the same woman you will be at the end of the Rallye.” This year’s participants range from 23 to 71 years of age, with an average age of 42. There are several mother/daughter teams, as well as teams of colleagues, cousins and even a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law team 143 (Françoise MOURGUES-DELHAYE / Sofia TIQUET - Fibre Verte et Symbiooz). Some have plenty of experience: 70 Gazelles have done the Rallye 222 times between them, and one has even done it 19 times: “The Rallye keeps you young” she says.

Solidarity and respect

The Gazelles will have to find their way and overcome obstacles on the terrain using old-school navigation, with no GPS or mobile phone, just maps and compasses.This is your event, and we are here for you, Marina and I and the 305 organizers. The only thing I ask of you is respect. Once you get out in the desert, you will lose your points of reference.  You will need to adapt, but you will learn quickly. That is why we also ask you to be rigorous and show solidarity between teammates.

This 29th edition, which has the support of the French Ministry for Youth and Sport, UNESCO, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, will officially launch tomorrow from the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. In the meantime, before tackling the different workshops and administrative and medical verifications, Dominique Serra closes on a final note: “Enjoy yourselves to the max, don’t take yourselves too seriously but tackle the rally with seriousness and good humour.




Dominique Serra has dedicated this 29th edition to Nasrin Sotoudeh – prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate – who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who took off their headscarves in public.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition for her release.