The 25th all female Rallye Aicha des Gazelles will take place March 20-April 4 and America will be sending 10 teams. European competitors will start with technical verifications March 20 in Paris, with American teams joining them in Rabat, Morocco on March 24. From there teams will travel over the Atlas Mountains to Erfoud to start the 9-day competition.
Participants in the Gazelle Rally are not allowed chase crews, cell phones, or GPS. Points are awarded for shortest distance between checkpoints, not fastest time. Teams can choose their route with the help of an old map, a plotter, and a compass. There is no roadbook. Teams are given map coordinates and must plot them on their maps, find their heading, then drive in as straight a line as possible. If a team comes upon an obstacle, be it a wash or a mountain, they must navigate around it and then return to their original heading.
With the exception of the marathon legs, teams return each night to a mobile bivouac, where they eat, sleep, gas up, and receive mechanical assistance.
Team 180 Real. American. Chaos will be competing in the 2015 Gazelle Rally in a very well prepared Toyota Tacoma. Teammates Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Jessi Combs will share driving and navigating duties in the 2014 Total Chaos Tacoma Double Cab.
The Tacoma has a host of modifications including King 2.5″ coilover front shocks with external bypass, King 2.5″ rear shocks with 14″ of travel, TRD 4.0L supercharger, Baja Designs LED lights, and a Warn winch.
While having a prepared pre-runner truck means the women will have an advantage over many other teams who rent stock trucks, it also means they must be careful to not out drive their navigation skills, especially since both Pitell-Vaughan and Combs come from a desert racing background.
Combs currently holds the speed record for a woman on four wheels, won her class at the 2014 Nitto King of the Hammers Smitty Built Everyman Challenge, and has podium finished at the Baja 1000. She is well known for her hosting gigs on All Girls Garage, Mythbusters, and Overhaulin’. Her wrenching and fabricating skills are a huge asset as teams are required to fix their own trucks during the day should any issues arise.
As the co-founder, Marketing Director and CFO of Total Chaos Fabrication, Pitell-Vaughan is just as handy with a wrench as Combs. Known by her nickname CHAOS (yes, in all capitals), Pitell-Vaughan is a whirlwind of energy and knowledge. She has raced off road on two and four wheels for 17 years, earning many class wins and top ten finishes. Under her leadership Total Chaos has become a globally recognized performance off road suspension and accessory manufacturer and dominates the aftermarket Toyota bolt on equipment industry. She has an insatiable curiosity and is always looking to live outside her comfort zone.
We’ll be posting daily updates here on TFL Car, but you can follow all the American teams and even send them messages of encouragement at www.gazellerally.com.
Check out this quick TFLtruck preview of another Toyota Tacoma with TotalChaos goodies on it.
Emme is a driver, reviewer, rabble rouser, and Gazelle who can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.