The all-women’s off road rally, Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, has added an electric vehicle category for its 27th annual rally across Morocco’s southern desert.
Called “E-Gazelles,” on March 17 the battery electric off-roaders will join four-wheel drive trucks and crossovers, motorcycles and quads on a 1,500-mile journey with a landscape of sand dunes, green valleys, mountains, fertile plains, and arid plateaus.
There is no GPS, cellphones, binoculars or other means of communication permitted.
Participants are called Gazelles, and each morning they are handed a compass and a “Road Book,” which is a 1:100,000 scale map that shows geographic coordinates or headings and distances of that day’s checkpoints and finish line.
Studying the map and day’s geographical coordinates, teams decide the difficulties of the terrain and choose their own route.
The daily goal is to drive the shortest path to reach specific checkpoints in the least amount of time. The driver and navigator have the choice of driving through sand dunes or avoiding them, and they could choose to navigate over a mountain or drive around it.
The winners of each class of vehicles are not the fastest team, but the ones who traveled the least amount of miles between checkpoints within a given time frame.
Teams are constantly monitored by a satellite tracking system for safety reasons.
Unlike other international rallies, there is no prize money for participants.
Instead, money generated goes to the Rallye’s non-profit Cœur de Gazelles, which works on projects that meet the needs of Morocco’s remote populations: medical care, education, the environment, job training for women and improving living conditions.
Established in 1990, the Rallye has brought together women between the ages of 18 and 71, from more than 30 countries.
The event is not only the first women’s off-road rally, it is the only rally that meets an ISO 14001 Environment Management System (EMS) standard. This is an internationally recognized environmental management standard taking into consideration the immediate and long term environmental impacts of an organization’s products, services and processes.
An EV class adds a cherry on top.