Two British and New Zealand women residing in Deux-Sèvres (New Aquitaine) leave today to participate in an all-female all-terrain car rally that will take place in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.
Briton Helen Tait Wright and New Zealander Susan Alemann, both in their 50s, will drive a 4X4 Land Rover for a total distance of 7,100 km from France to Morocco, where they will then take part in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.
The teams are leaving from Nice today (September 18).
The actual race will take place over six stages and last nine days, between September 22 and 30. They will travel around 1,500 km of the Sahara Desert, and will only have a compass and a map from the 1950s to complete this race.
The two women, who have lived in France for three years, first met at a wine tasting two years ago.
“I knew straight away that I was going to be his sailor, but it took a while for her to realize it,” Ms Alemann told Ouest France before the race.
Ms Alemann is the first person from New Zealand to participate in the race, which she said was a motivator to participate.
Ms. Tait Wright has competed before, in 2019.
“I’ve done it before, so I know it won’t be easy,” Ms. Tait Wright told The Connexion.
“So yeah, there’s a little bit of excitement. I can’t wait to go back to Morocco and go back to the desert.
“Sue is nervous because she’s never done it before. I kind of know what’s coming up. There are some things that worry me but I’m not really nervous about that, if that makes sense. I know the things that are going to be difficult.
The women donated € 3,000 to a project led by the Bioparc, a zoo in Doué-la-Fontaine (Maine-et-Loire). The project involves efforts to slow the invasion of prickly pears in West Africa, which threatens the habitats of dama gazelles. It is the largest of the gazelles and the most endangered, according to the biopark website.
Queens of the desert
The two women based in France form just one team out of a total of 190 all-female teams.
This is the 30th edition of the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, which has been repeatedly delayed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.
Ms Tait Wright will drive her own car, which she nicknamed Priscilla, named after the 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
Ms Tait Wright is not currently working, but said her “real job” was to work as a UK fashion designer specializing in wedding dresses and special occasion wear.
Ms. Alemann works as a consultant.
You can follow their progress on their Facebook page here.
An action program is organized around the Rallye des Gazelles, to provide medical assistance to isolated populations.
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