The Giti Gazelles and Giti Tire have again teamed up to take on the toughest and most conscientious women-only cross-country motorsports event on the planet – the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc.
English born Helen Tate Wright and New Zealander Sue Alemann, their Defender 110 named Priscilla and a set of Giti AT70 4×4 all-terrain tyres will cover 2,500 kilometres of deserted Moroccan landscape from September 23-30 in the names of racing and charity.
Marking its 30th anniversary, the rally consists of six legs, two of which are marathon legs lasting two days, which are all entirely off-road and where the teams will be confronted with dried-out river beds, stony plains, huge inclines and drops and the sandy dunes of the western Sahara desert.
Using only a compass and a 1:100,000 scale map to plot their route between checkpoints – electronic items and binoculars are banned – the winner is the team that has travelled the fewest kilometres on the onboard odometer between checkpoints within a given time frame.
In total 381 Gazelles form 190 teams which encompass 14 different nationalities.
As well as the racing the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is based in philanthropy. Before, during and after the official race dates the teams and organisers undertake a programme of activities to benefit local communities and the environment.
In partnership the Giti Gazelles and Giti Tire are working with a local buyer park where they rerelease animals into the wild, jointly sponsoring the clearing of 100 hectares of land in the Sahara Desert for the Damas Gazelles, one of the most endangered species in the world with only 110 known animals.
In October 2019, Helen visited a school in a remote village called Teltas in the Atlas Mountains which required the basics to carry on teaching local children. The Giti teams joined forces to install WiFi and screens as well as supply essential equipment including books and stationary.
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc also has its own cause called the Cœur de Gazelles or “Heart of the Gazelle”, a non-profit which goes alongside the race where 60+ medical volunteers go out into the desert to give villages access to medical treatment, sanitary items, school items, food and clothing.
Helen, who first raced for the Giti Gazelles in 2019, said: “We learned such a lot on the first rally and I’m using that experience to make more informed decisions about what we need for this edition.
“I can’t wait to get back to Morocco which is my favourite place, and I’m looking forward to doing the best we can in the competition but also enjoying what will be an unforgettable experience in a fabulous country with an amazing group of women.”
2021 will be Sue’s first race where she’ll take the role of navigator. She said about the tyres: “It is just us in the desert, no pit crews to help us out. We are counting on the fact that the Giti AT70s are high performance tyres that will stand up to what we will put them through.
“Depending on the terrain we will be reducing and increasing the pressure on the tyres, so for example rocky ground means more pressure and sand will be less pressure to progress as if we were floating.
“We are so thankful to Giti for supporting and believing in us.”
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