Road to Morocco: American Teams Conquer the 2015 Gazelle Rally

2015 Gazelle Rally
Showing their USA pride. Photo by Nicole Dreon

The 2015 Gazelle Rally is over and the ten American teams garnered two class wins in the First Participants Challenge, two top ten finishes, and one class win.

4×4 results-

  • Team 180 Pitell-Vaughan/Combs: 10th overall, 1st First Participants
  • Team 107 Hoehn/Hoehn: 12th overall
  • Team 218 Croft/Cahill: 14th overall
  • Team 182 Klishevich/De Sybourg Siffert: 22nd overall
  • Team 175 Saxten/Saxten: 41st overall
  • Team 183 Donaghe/Fiorentino: 56th overall

Crossover rankings-

  • Team 317 Beavis/Roenigk: 1st overall
  • Team 316 Mead/Marschner: 5th overall

Side x Side rankings-

  • Team 23 Sacks/Price: 7th overall, 1st First Participats

Expert rankings-

  • Team 400 Howells/Lerner: 14th overall

“It’s great, we’re so proud, we really learned a lot about teamwork and communication. We adore Morocco and Africa,” said Team 180, Pitell-Vaughan/Combs.

2015 Gazelle Rally
Team 218 Rachelle Croft and Rhonda Cahill.

After the final day of competition, the Gazelles made their way from the south western desert of Morocco to the coastal city of Essaouira. The next day all the Gazelles gathered on the beach for a ceremonial finish.

The awards ceremony was next, where the Gazelles walked into the event to loud dance music, with organizers and mechanics cheering them on. Later that night the team attended a black-tie celebratory dinner and finished off the night with dancing and cocktails.

2015 Gazelle Rally
The teams all get to cross the ceremonial finish line in Essaouira.

The Gazelle Rally was started 25 years ago by Dominique Serra, bringing women of ages 18-65 from over 30 countries together in the Moroccan desert. Since 2009 the rally has taken place under the patronage of his Majesty, the Moroccan King Mohammed VI, and the Gazelles wear the Moroccan coat of arms on their vests.

The rally is also certified ISO 14001:2004. This means the rally has an environmental management system for integrating environmental policy into its actions and its global management strategy.

2015 Gazelle Rally
Dominique Serra and guest at the ceremonial finish.

Additionally, 25% of all rally fees goes to the Coeur des Gazelles, (Heart of Gazelles), the non-profit arm of the Rally. The Coeur des Gazelles provides medical and educational services to the most remote parts of Morocco.

While the numbers are not out for this year’s rally, in 2014, a 52-member team of doctors, dentists, nurses, and logistics staff worked during the 8 days of competition, providing

  • 4881 medical consultations
  • 2385 prescriptions and treatments
  • 254 pairs of corrective glasses
  • 112 ultrasounds
  • 65 cataract surgeries
  • 599 dental extractions
  • 6931 people received donations of clothing, hygiene productions, shoes, and toys
2015 Gazelle Rally
Coeur des Gazelles in action.

Official dates for the 2016 Gazelle Rally have not been announced yet, but expect the competition to take place in mid March to early April.

About:  The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a grueling test of driving skill and navigation across southern Morocco’s most beautiful and challenging terrain. The rally is unique whereby teams are not allowed technological assistance. In the absence of GPS, communications and service crews, teams must find the shortest distance between the checkpoints over nine days of competition with only the aid of traditional navigation – compass, outdated maps, and plotters. The event is an incredible test of endurance, patience, and teamwork, pushing competitors to their limits.

French team #331 drove a Subaru XV at this year’s rally. Here’s the TFL Car take on it.

emme hall tflcar


Emme is a driver, reviewer, rabble rouser, and Gazelle who can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.