Essaouira : Awards Ceremony
"Magical" Gala for the Gazelles
More than 1000 people gathered in the marquee tent in Essaouira Saturday night to ring out the 27th Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in style. For the occasion, and to celebrate the women being honoured this evening, the room was decorated under the theme "Garden of Roses". The Gazelles and their guests were received in a magical garden with birds singing, music and live entertainment. "It's magnificent - magical!" commented Virginie of Team 127, admiring the extravagant floral arrangements hanging from the ceiling.
Maison Bronzini marked the event by offering all of the women present a product from their new line of olive-oil based cosmetics.
The evening was kicked off by Dominique Serra and Philippe Baijot, CEO of Lanson, to the sound of popping corks of Tsarine champagne. To crown things off, addition to a sumptuous gourmet menu, the Gazelles were also given the chance to discover the work of the Rallye's cameramen and photographers through a succession of photos and videos of the Rallye, taking them back to the magic of the Moroccan desert where they just lived an incredible 10-day adventure.
After dancing the night away, the Gazelles said goodbye or, in some cases, "see you next time"... as they are already looking forward to next year's edition. After all, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is also an unforgettable human experience!
Superb prize-giving ceremony
The marquee tent in Essaouira's medina came alive at 10:30 this morning for the official prize-giving ceremony as more than 1000 family members, friends, celebrities, officials and event organizers paid tribute to this magnificent edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles 2017 and its Gazelles.
MC Bruno Vandestick, the host of "24h du Mans", warmed up the audience qui ne demandait que ça!
The Governor of Essaouira, Mr. Djamal Mokhtatar took the floor to applaud the Gazelles' commitment, followed by the Interim Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Khalid Berjaoui, whose ministry shares the Rallye's values of daring and pushing one's limits. Mrs. Nada Roudies, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, emphasized Morocco's commitment to promoting its magnificent cultural and natural heritage through sustainable development.
Amidst the music, speeches, and heartfelt testimonies of Gazelles, there was an unusual period of silence as the entire audience was invited to take part in a Mannequin Challenge video which will be shown at this evening's Gala. For the Gazelles, their sponsors, their guests and the Rallye's organizers, it's time for an unforgettable evening of celebration under the most beautiful marquee tent in the world.
General ranking 2017 - Expert Class
General ranking 2017 - 4x4/Truck Class
1st: Team 213 Régine ZBINDEN - Lydia CHRISTEN
2nd: Team 169 Véronique DE SYBOURG-SIFFERT - Laurence BRASEY
3rd: Team 107 Stéphanie PERUSSE - Céline VEGA-ROÏATTI
General ranking 2017 - Crossover Class
1st: Team 312 Daphnee STALPORT - Marjorie DEMONCEAUX
2nd: Team 311 Aurore MINISTROT - Civenty ABDALLAH
3rd: Team 322 Dominique FERRERO - Sophie BUCLIN
General ranking 2017 - Quad/Motorbike/SSV Class
General Ranking 2017 - First Participation Class
"First Participation" Class rewards teams who are participating in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc for the first time.
4x4 / Truck Class:
Team 312: Daphnee STALPORT - Marjorie DEMONCEAUX
Team 24: Frédérique RISSER - Caroline BUGATTI
MDJS leg in the dunes
Leg 3 was sponsored by the Marocaine Des Jeux et des Sports (Moroccan gaming agency) to congratuate the participants for their leg in the dunes.
Beauty Car Challenge
1st prize: 7,000 euros off their registration fee for the 2018 edition is awarded to
Team 121 Valérie BERNARD - Florence MANNESSIER
2nd prize: 4,000 euros off their registration fee for the 2018 edition is awarded to
Team 104 Emmanuelle DOS SANTOS TARQUINI - Cécile MERLO
3rd prize: 2,000 euros off their registration fee for the 2018 edition is awarded to
Team 157 Nathalie PERRAUT - Yasmina SCHWENTZEL
Company Team Challenge
4x4 / Truck Class:
2nd: Team 167 : LEVASSEUR Christelle and ROBERT Katell for SNCF
3rd: Team 105 : LEMERCIER Isabelle andt TEPPE Karine for CLINIQUE VETERINAIRE DE LA VAGUE
"Enjoyment" is the word of the day for this year's Rallye winners
Betty and Sonia, Team 22, were the first to cross the symbolic finish line in Essaouira this morning, as the winners of Quad Class. Even after eleven victories, it was an emotional moment. "It's the challenge we enjoy the most," observed Betty, who launched an appeal with her teammate Sonia: "young Gazelles seeking sponsor".
Jeannette and Anne-Marie, the Gazelles of Team 403, Rallye regulars with 8 and 7 participations respectively under their belts and this year's winners in Expert Class, applauded "a great competition and a great atmosphere".
"We're really happy, we enjoyed ourselves so much", exclaimed Swiss Gazelles Régine and Lydia of Team 213, winners of 4x4 / Truck Class. Their secret to success: a good relationship and complete confidence in one another.
Laurence of Team 169, who finished 2nd in 4x4 / truck class with teammate Véronique, is still highly emotional. "I'm not happy, the word is too weak, it's more than we ever hoped for!" exclamed the Swiss Gazelle. Her objective: to do the Rallye again with her daughter as soon as she has her driver's license... in 12 years!
The Gazelles of Team 107 finished in 3rd position. "It was a lot of work but it was worth it," remarked Stéphanie, for whom this was her first Rallye.
For Cécile and Fanny of Team 195, who emerged the winners of First Participation Class, their win was an emotional moment but also a big surprise: "We found out the day before yesterday that we were leading in the ranking and we cried".
Daphnée and Marjorie of Team 312 were novices in this year's Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc and put in an excellent performance, winning Crossover Class. "It's a double victory because it really wasn't easy," observed the Gazelles, who are thinking of doing the Rallye again, but in Quad Class.
The Gazelles on the Essaouira beach
There was a charged atmosphere at the beach in Essaouira as the Gazelles gathered for to parade down the beach in celebration of the end of the 27th edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. Many teams waved the flags of their respective countries or regions. The Expert teams were in the back, with the exception of Carole and Sylvie of Team 407, who were kindly picked up by Hélène and Charlotte of Team 438 after their vehicle broke down. Anne-Laure and Priscilla dominated the parade... from the back of the flatbed truck that towed them to Essaouira yesterday!
Some Gazelles had up to 10 family members squeezed into the back of their vehicle, such as teams 120 and 102. Mean while, Kiera and Cindy waved their bras as makeshift flags! It's time for celebration, and also for tears for many teams!
At the finish line, the Gazelles were greeted by the rhythms of Sla Tucada percussion group and the voice of Bruno Vandestick. They arrived one after the other, lights on, horns blaring. The many spectators gathered to cheer on the teams included families of the Gazelles and sponsors such as the French railroad company, who sponsored the "Goddesses of the Desert", Team 118. "It's the completion of a long project," noted Michel, very proud of his Gazelles.
Danièle Evenou, who took part in the very first edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in 1990, was at the finish line. "27 years ago, we were three women per team and all driving Ladas. There were less than 10 teams", remarked the actress.
Further along the beach is Touria, sister of Amal and Asma of Team 152, who is "so proud of all these Gazelles who were just amazing".
Saturday April 1 - Ceremonial finish on the beach
Every year, the beach in Essaouira becomes the stage for a show that has become an event not to be missed: the ceremonial finish of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc.
It’s an exciting occasion when Gazelles, organizers, guests, officials and supporters come together to celebrate the official arrival of the teams.
This final day of the Rallye is sure to be filled with emotion!
09:00 a.m. – Arrival on the beach, in front of M. Gallery Hotel
10:30 a.m. – Prize giving ceremony of the 27th edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc
2:15 to 3:00 p.m. – Cœur de Gazelles medical caravan report in the presence of the caravan’s volunteers and organizers - M. Gallery Hotel
7:30 p.m. – Closing dinner – private reception in a marquee tent – live entertainment and dancing.