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Prize-giving ceremony


After parading along the beach, the Gazelles made their way to a large marquee tent set up for the official award ceremony, presented by Bruno Vandestick in the presence of French actress Véronique Jannot. The teams were welcomed by a guard of honour made up of event organizers in their Afriquia T-shirts. A large crowd had also gathered to applaud the Gazelles after their 9-day adventure.

Dominique Serra repeated how proud she is of the Gazelles: “I wish you further adventures even more amazing than those you have just experienced”. The founder and director of the event also handed a cheque for 800 euros to Moroccan full contact karate champion Imane Bouissafarn to help pay for her training and her participation in the upcoming world championships.

In addition to the many guests, all the event partners were present, including the CEO of Aïcha, partner for 21 years and the origin of the rally’s name: the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. The partners were presented with Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc ‘partner’ trophies: Mr. EL BAGHDADI, CEO, AFRIQUIA; Mr. REGARD, North Africa Regional Director, Bosch Car Service; Mr. DELAROUSSIERE, CEO, VINCI Immobilier; Mrs. CAURETTE, Executive Director, ATOL les Opticiens; Mrs. BERRADA, Communications Manager, La Marocaine Des Jeux et Des Sports; Mr. COSTE Franck, CEO, Champagne TSARINE; Mr. CHAILLOT, Director, ROYAL AIR MAROC; Mr. DUCREAU Director France, KONI; Mrs. Caroline BARENGER, Head of Business Alliances and Events, HEC Paris; Mr. Jean Philippe DENAC, Broadcast Director, CHERIE; Mrs. Francoise HOLLENDER, Co-founder, EURO4x4parts; Mr. Franck Vilain, CEO, KRAFTWERK; Mrs. Virginie  ATLAN, General Director, La Maison de la Métropole de Nice Cote d’Azur; Mr. IARIA, Manager, Le Comptoir2Nicole restaurant in Nice.

All teams were then called up to the stage to receive their trophy, beginning with the Gazelles who ended up “Unranked”, “Which doesn’t mean they deserve it any less”, emphasized Dominique Serra. The teams made their way up to the stage, one by one, class by class, before the presentation of the podium finishers. In addition to their trophy, every participant received an Aïcha gift basket.

Some teams were also awarded a special prize: an MDJS trophy for the winners of the Leg 5 marathon. The team with the best full vehicle wrap also received a prize. “Real works of art” stated Dominique Serra. This year’s winner of the Euro4x4 parts Beauty Car Challenge was Team 177 (Delphine BICHOFFE / France CLEVES - Greentech).

It was then time to present the podium finishers of each vehicle class, starting with Quad/SSV Class. 13th victory out of 14 participations for Betty, 4 sur 6 for Sonia. The quad enthusiasts of Team 29 (Elisabeth KRAFT / Sonia BAUDOIN-GUERARD - POLARIS FRANCE) were still excited and proud of their victory: We had a great Rallye, eight days of good lines; we had a blast”, noted Betty. “Every year, we have to work a little harder for that first place. It’s hard work; we have some serious competition,” affirmed Sonia. Will they be on the start line for next year’s 30th edition? “That depends on our sponsors”, stated the Gazelles.

“When I found out we had won, I couldn’t believe it”, recalled Lucile of Team 312 (Frédérique ROBYR / Malika SCHMALZ - Consortium Entreprise Générale Patrick Schmalz et Dhome SA), winner of Crossover Class with teammate Frédérique. It was an unexpected victory for these Gazelles who “weren’t aiming for the podium but just wanted to finish the competition.” Through the Rallye, they “gained self-confidence”: a double victory! The Gazelles spared a thought for Team 313 (Karine DRIRA ROGEZ / Audrey JOVER - INEHA Finance), who led the rankings throughout the rally before experiencing an unfortunate mechanical problem just four kilometres from the finish line.

In 4×4/Truck Class, Jeanette of Team 200 (Jeanette JAMES / Murielle TARRAZI - Bumper Off Road) savoured her victory even though her “real pleasure is sharing this adventure with all these amazing women”. These amazing women included her teammate Murielle, whose first Rallye experience was “magical with spectacular landscapes”. But even more than the competition itself, the first-time Gazelle was marked by “the Rallye’s human values”.

In E-Gazelles VINCI Immobilier Class, Team 510 (Stéphanie GUERRY / Carine POISSON - ZOE) was on the top step of the podium. “We came here to win” stated Stéphanie, while Carine confirmed: “We had the right car for that.” It’s a double victory for the Gazelles, because they “never got stuck”. Even though it contained only two teams, the electric buggies also had their own podium. The Gazelles of Team 601 (Charlène LESTIENNE / Barbara BARBIER - ASSURANCES LESTIENNE) emerged the winners. “We’re delighted to inaugurate this new vehicle class”, announced Charlène.

The winners in each vehicle class were spoiled: in addition to the official Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc trophy, they also received a Bosch Car Service trophy and a magnum of Tsarine champagne. The Gazelles then had the afternoon off to explore the alleys of Essaouira and prepare for the gala evening.





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.