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2016 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles - Team #180 USA

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is the recap after the 2 day marathon stage that happened over the weekend.

March 27th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has officially hit the midway mark with four competition days down and four to go. With that comes some serious heat in the top ten of the 4×4 class, as pressure mounts for leaders in the rankings and contenders for the top. For Team #180 American Chaos Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis, they began the first of two Marathon Legs on Saturday ahead of the pack in overall score but with little room for error – second place Team #179 Régine Zbinden and Ela Steiner trailed them in an exceptionally close .77 points away.


Pitell-Vaughan, the CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma, and Erg Chebbi

They Don’t Call It a Marathon Leg for Nothing

The ideal distance for the two-day Leg 3 was 230 km with 14 CPs total and 5 of them in the dunes. For those in the 4×4 class, day one “Dunes Day” brought route options through the famed Erg Chebbi dunes – teams chose from three routes based on their experience and expertise. Route X was the most advanced, surrounded by steep peeks and tricky decision making. Maintaining smart decisions in both navigating and driving here were a must. Pitell-Vaughan and Beavischose X, an obvious choice for teams looking to hold court. Although the team had kept strong momentum so far, it was definitely reachable.


Home sweet home

Going into the dunes, Beavis was optimistic. “The Morocco Taco absolutely has enough power to climb the steep slopes of Erg Chebbi, and the peaks make it easy to navigate.”

The truck’s custom suspension, Toyota TRD Supercharger and traction with the BFGoodrich tires gave Pitell-Vaughan confidence going in. Still, competitors try and abide by at least one rule – don’t break your car. It is your third Gazelle.

“Keeping a vehicle together for nine days out here is no easy task,” said Pitell-Vaughan. “The rocks rattle the truck apart – we had rear diff bolts rattle loose last year!, The sand dunes are technical and driving straight is more challenging than you can imagine both mentally and physically.”


Navigator Chrissie Beavis

Team #180’s lines through the X route were seemingly well-placed in all five CPs as they set a solid pace through the dunes. From there, they continued on to nail all CPs on day one. Day two’s brought tackling the wide Oued Rhéris, rough terrain and difficult features to identify, which brought the team back to the bivouac after dark Sunday evening.

The rally is now beginning to weed out competitors, filtering teams through fatigue, dehydration, exhaustion, and 14 hour days in the vehicle. Competition in the top ten is especially fierce.

With other teams in the top five performing well over the weekend including fourth place American Team #107 Susanah and Jo Hannah Hoehn, Team #180 cannot get too comfortable. Then again, if you know Pitell-Vaughan’s motto, “Life is CHAOS! Get out and live it…..” we can’t imagine this is a team that’ll take it easy.


A highlight of the rally – the Erg Chebbi dunes

LIVE TRACKING

6 a.m. local time (10 p.m PST)

Rankings
Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day on the official rally website:
www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

MEDIA INQUIRES
David Brumbley

[email protected]

951.737.9682

All Photos: Maïenga
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
This most recent post says "only" 8 American teams? My impression is that 8 is quite a good showing for the # of American teams for this event...am I wrong? Has there traditionally been greater #s of American teams in this event?
I just got an answer for you for the last few years.

2015 - 10 American teams (6 4x4, 2 Crossover, 1 SidexSide, 1 Expert class
2014 - 4 American teams 4x4 class
2013 - 5 American teams 4x4 class
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is the recap after yesterdays leg 4.

March 28th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – In the history of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, no American team has ever won the coveted 4×4 class. Although three U.S. teams including Team #180 American Chaos were in the top 5 of the class going into today’s Leg 4, a major shake-up is still possible as gaps begin to close between teams.


The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma canvassing the terrain

After an exhausting Marathon Leg over the weekend, today’s Leg 4 wasn’t the most difficult of days with the biggest challenge being fatigue, heat, and total distance covered – a looped leg of 160 km estimated at 9 hours with 7 checkpoints. If teams wanted a chance of being dead-on, they needed to plot well and drive smart. Team American Chaos did just that.


Beavis plots her checkpoints

A Key Player – Strategy

With the Leg taking teams up over a very large muddy hill before they even hit CP1, some teams decided to go around the obstacle rather than take the risk head-on. The “safe” option; however, led them straight into mud. Team American Chaos made the decision to go over the hill and it paid off. Beavis noted that with only 1.91 kilometers separating their team from the leaders, she and Pitell-Vaughan were really strategic during Leg 4.

“Our strategy today was definitely to take some chances to see if we could take back the lead, and we got lucky right away,” said Beavis. “We took a risky bet at CP 1 and it paid off big time. We went over a hill where we watched a lot of other competitors have to turn around. I put some MAXTRAX down, and we got up and over. Everyone else who had to go around then got stuck in the mud. We probably shaved about three kilometers.”


Team #180, the “Morocco Taco,” and recovery devices MAXTRAX

Another influential area of the course was between CP 6 and 7. Team American Chaos decided to take an easier line here to conserve energy, whereas current leaders Team #179 Régine Zbinden and ElaSteiner took the opposite. They drove an exceptionally straight line in their Jeep Wrangler through the difficult dry riverbeds in an attempt to hold onto first place. Ironically, right when Pitell-Vaughan and Beavispulled into CP 7, Team #179 pulled in behind them after having done the harder line. The two teams will likely be jostling for the lead the next few days. Beavis said they had an unofficial penalty for the day of 6.4 kilometers, which would be good news for the team.

Teams in the top must continue to bring their A-game with an excellent pace and navigational accuracy for a chance at first. A tough final three days are ahead.


Pitell-Vaughan spreads the cheer

LIVE TRACKING

6 a.m. local time (10 p.m PST)

Rankings
Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day on the official rally website:
www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

MEDIA INQUIRES
David Brumbley

[email protected]

951.737.9682

All Photos: Nicole Dreon/Maïenga
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is last nights update about all of the American teams.

American teams fight for position at Rallye Aicha des Gazelles
Three U.S. teams in Top 5 as offroad event reaches halfway point

TAFRAOUT, Morocco (March 28, 2016) -- Monday marked the halfway point in the 2016 Rally Aïcha des Gazelles and three American teams started the day in the Top 5. While the Swiss duo of Regine Zbinden and Ela Steiner held a slight lead, Americans occupied positions two through four.

Second overall was the #180 team of Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis. Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn of Hoehn Motors Land Rover were third in the #107 Land Rover LR4 and the #178 Land Rover Defender team of Emme Hall and Sabrina Howells was fourth.

The challenge of the event is to drive an as-the-crow-flies route through the course, navigating the fewest possible miles between checkpoints. At the end of nine days in the desert, the team that has driven the fewest kilometers over the straight-line ideal is the winner. And while the rally is not about speed, the top competitors are so close that it's officially a race.

Only 1.91 kilometers off the lead Monday morning, Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan started the day determined to make up ground. Putting their off-road racing skills to the test early in the day, they successfully maneuvered their Toyota Tundra straight up and over a muddy hill that other teams chose to avoid. Navigator Beavis estimated the move saved as much as three kilometers on their final tally. "Our strategy was definitely to take some chances to see if we could take back the lead, and we got lucky right away," she said.

The third-place Hoehn sisters achieved all their checkpoints but said they struggled on Monday. "Today shouldn't have been a difficult day, but I just wasn't getting accurate headings and never hit a checkpoint dead-on," said Susanah Hoehn. "There were really long stretches between checkpoints and if you're off by even a half a degree that can make you off by kilometers in the end."

Monday's terrain included many wide-open plains and challenging dry riverbeds competitors call "oueds" -- the French-language term for wadi. After a weekend marathon leg that saw competitors running on minimal sleep, intense Monday heat added to the challenge. "I think the organization was really mean to the navigators today," said navigator Howells. "The entire day, no matter what direction we were going in, the sun was always on the passenger seat."

The 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles runs from March 23 to March 31. Recaps and photo galleries are available for download at http://bit.ly/1RmgiLG. Final results are presented at the closing gala April 2 in Essaouira, Morocco.

MORE:
> Official rankings from each leg are posted at noon (local time) the following day at: www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

> Live event coverage is available while vehicles are on course at: http://www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com/en/Rally/2016/live


Most checkpoints are staffed by locals from area villages. Here navigator Sabrina Howells, from Los Angeles, is all smiles as she clears her paperwork with a course worker on Monday.
(Photo: Nicole Dreon / Rallye Aicha des Gazelles)


Rally Aïcha des Gazelles
USA Teams Notes and Quotes
March 28, 2016 (Day 5) - Leg 4


Location: Zougguerhn / Zougguerhn
Ideal distance: 160 km
Estimated time: 9 hours
7 Checkpoints

RANKED 2nd at Day 5 start: Team #180 Nicole Pitell-Vaughan (Corona, California) / Chrissie Beavis (San Diego, California): Toyota Tacoma
Team #180 slipped back to second overall after the marathon leg and took some chances Monday to make up ground. They gambled on a route up and over a muddy hill early in the day to save a few kilometers, but then took a safer line around another challenge. Swiss rivals Regine Zbinden and Ela Steiner, who are leading the 4x4 division, took the opposite course in the #179 Jeep Wrangler. Which gamble paid off won't be known until Leg 4 rankings are released on Tuesday at noon (local time).

RANKED 3rd at Day 5 start: Team #107 Susanah Hoehn (Carlsbad, California) / Jo Hannah Hoehn (Carlsbad, California): Land Rover LR4
Winning the marathon leg over the weekend was a huge boost for the #107 team of Susanah and Jo Hannah Hoehn, but Monday was a struggle. "My confidence was through the roof going into Leg 4, but it quickly faded," said Susanah Hoehn. Still, the pair achieved all of their checkpoints without any major issues and are ready for Day 6.

RANKED 4th at Day 5 start: Team #178 Emme Hall (Oakland, California) / Sabrina Howells (Los Angeles, California): Land Rover Defender
Sabrina Howells and Emme Hall, who finished seventh in the #178 Land Rover Defender during the marathon leg, demonstrated the charitable disposition known as the "Spirit of the Gazelles" during Leg 4. Before arriving at their first checkpoint, they drove out of their way to pull two other teams out of the mud -- including their closet competitors, the #169 of Veronique de Sybourg-Siffert and Emilie Kuhn. "I thought the organizers would have subtracted 20 kilometers for helping dig other people out of the mud," joked Howells. Despite adding some mileage, they achieved all checkpoints for the day.

RANKED 10th at Day 5 start: Team #184 Susie Saxten (Encinitas, California) / Ivy Cass (Encinitas, California): Jeep Wrangler
The #184 team of Susie Saxten and Ivy Cass achieved all of their checkpoints on Monday -- even after making an incorrect measurement that saw them briefly traveling in the wrong direction. The team, who lost their power steering halfway through the marathon leg, said they were grateful to have a fully working car during Leg 4. Teams are allowed to have their cars fixed by mechanics in the bivouac, but they aren't permitted to get outside mechanical assistance while on the course.
RANKED 13th at Day 5 start: Team #182 Teresa Stewart (Kauai, Hawaii) / Sara Jehn (Oahu, Hawaii): Jeep Wrangler
The rookie team of Theresa Stewart and Sara Jehn are proving formidable competition. A great marathon leg moved them into third in the first-time participation rankings. While they found their first six checkpoints with ease on Monday, the seventh and final stop of the day stumped them. After driving in circles, they decided to return to the bivouac for the night. They will receive a penalty for missing the checkpoint but are expected to continue in the event.

RANKED 56th at Day 5 start: Team #188 Elaine Newkirk (Rancho Santa Fe, California) / Keely Sellers (Kihei, Hawaii): Jeep Wrangler
After struggling to find both the first and second checkpoints Monday, first-time competitors Elaine Newkirk and Keely Sellers began making progress. But as they ran out of daylight late Monday, they opted to bypass the seventh checkpoint. They will receive a penalty for the missed checkpoint, but are expected to continue in the event.

RANKED 79th at Day 5 start: Team #181 Karen Hoehn (Del Mar, California) / Maureen Gibbons (Del Mar, California): Land Rover LR4
Rookies Karen Hoehn and Maureen Gibbons also ran out of daylight in their #181 Land Rover LR4. After hitting the first six checkpoints, they decided to skip the seventh and return to camp before nightfall. "It's scary when it starts getting dark out," said Hoehn. "We decided to cut our losses and head back." They will receive a penalty for the missed checkpoint, but are expected to continue in the event.

RANKED 104th at Day 5 start: Team #127 Catherine Chiadmi (St. Petersburg, Florida) / Cecile Vinson (Vaucluse, France): Jeep Wrangler
The French/American duo of Catherine Chiadmi and Cecile Vinson made their first checkpoint easily and drove a near-perfect line between Checkpoints 3 and 4 in the #127 Jeep Wrangler. But after a few detours late in the day, they set a course for the bivouac. They will receive a penalty for missing two checkpoints but are expected to continue in the event.
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is the latest from earlier this morning.

March 29th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – In a battle of sheer will with neither challenger backing down, Team #180 American Chaos Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis began today’s Leg just .13 km behind first place Team #179 Régine Zbinden and Ela Steiner. Describing the highly competitive 4×4 class as fierce would be an understatement at this point, as the rally approaches the final few days with three American teams sitting in top five positions.


A great backdrop for the vehicles – the Sahara sky

Teams rose this morning to eight checkpoints, an ideal distance of 170 km and an estimated time of nine hours ahead of them. Straight lines, a notorious sand trap, hills, and rocky terrain throughout would test drivers’ skills, experience and endurance.


The “Morocco Taco” looking comfortable in its namesake country

Rough Roads Ahead

Team American Chaos’ day started out less than positive after a solid performance yesterday. Rewind to day three, Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis drove through a crater and their truck slammed hard on something – they weren’t sure what. The next few days the vehicle was fine, up until this morning when the rear shock mount broke prior to reaching CP1. The damage forced the team to drive slow and methodically straight in first and second gear dependent on the leaf pack.


Vehicles gaining ground

Later between CP 6 and CP 7, Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis came across American Team #107 Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn. “The air ride system in their Land Rover L4 had gone out and lowered all the way down, making it impossible for the vehicle to rise back up,” said Pitell-Vaughan, herself experienced in mechanics. Team American Chaos, in true “Gazelle Spirit,” stopped to attempt and fix the vehicle before heading on to their next CP after almost an hour.


The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma in the thick of the competition

The admirable move unfortunately spent daylight, and Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis did not arrive at the bivouac until after first place Team #179. With a longer day spent in the vehicle for Team American Chaos, the move may have cost precious minutes of evening rest before the second grueling Marathon Leg tomorrow.


Driver’s view

Big Picture

With six official competition days behind the teams, vehicles are starting to show their wear and tear. Although this is not a race for speed, the rough rocky terrain and extreme conditions of the rally may begin to take their toll as the competition heads towards the finish. And teams need to be strategic moving and planning for solutions to save kilometers.

Case in point: In 2014, seasoned competitors Syndiely Wade and Florence Pham miscalculated a CP, leading them to a route over an extremely rocky area. They literally got out of the vehicle to physically move huge boulders, creating a route to drive through to shave off distance. Although they did not end up winning, it’s strategy like that which keep competitors in the game

It’s safe to say in true “Gazelle Rally” fashion, anything is possible in these final few days.

LIVE TRACKING

6 a.m. local time (10 p.m PST)

Rankings

Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day on the official rally website:

www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

MEDIA INQUIRES
David Brumbley
[email protected]
951.737.9682
All Photos: Maïenga/Nicole Dreon
 

Dirty Harry

Well-Known Member
nice! Just a hunch though...I'm betting the Rover has mechanical issues some where along the way!
Looks like you called it on the LR4 suspension!

Bummer about the rear shock mount too for Nicole, but with leaf springs hopefully they were able to remove the shock on that corner and continue on. Would be awesome to see her and Christie be the first American winners.
 

y2kbaja

Well-Known Member
Before the rear shock mount failed they were just 426 feet out of first. After the rear shock mount failed they slipped to just over 2km. Today they have had a few more kinks in the line than the 179 team who is leading. So a solid 2nd place is in reach.
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
The girls are in second place (unofficially) after the final leg of the rally!

March 31st, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has officially lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest all female sporting events on the planet. In the stretch of final Leg 6, two teams battled it out for the lead. One of them was Team #180 American Chaos, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis.


The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma stealing the spotlight

The Final Countdown

“My racing has taught me that it’s not over until it’s over,” – Chrissie Beavis, 2013.

Team American Chaos began their morning back from a broken rear shock mount on Leg 5, where they had to drive in first and second gear only. It was sent to the mechanics that evening, but coupled with little sleep the night before, it’s safe to say they knew this final leg would be their ultimate test of endurance.


Vehicles gather at a CP

Leg 6 was a 235 km landscape mixed with small dunes, a huge dry lakebed, and the famed Chegaga dunes. Although not as spectacular as the Erg Chebbi dunes, they are nonetheless haunting and have a reputation amongst competitors.


Competitors will be dreaming of these dunes about two months from now

Beavis remarked prior to Leg 6, “The Chegaga dunes can be tricky to navigate through if it’s a hazy or sand-stomy day. My fingers are crossed for good weather that day.”

Unfortunately, Beavis did not get her wish. The winds kicked up and made long distance navigation virtually impossible, with sandstorms in the dunes so bad that teams could barely see the horizon. Since this is a competition about reading terrain features, that lack of visibiliy meant teams had use every ounce of mental sharpness left in them.


You can always count on sandstorms in the Sahara

Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis performed well the first day, nailing all of their checkpoints. Despite the weather, they seemingly breezed through a few expert X CPs early in the dunes.

Going into the second day of the Final Leg, the competition still could not be predicted. First place Team #179 Zbinden/Steiner, two air-traffic controllers, had neatly impeccable lines – setting a difficult path for even the experienced to beat. Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis began on point, yet as their route continued, took a few wider lines which ultimately affected their score.

“We gambled and went all in today, and we doubled down. The map lied where we thought we could save some kilometers and it made it more challenging because we were on a Marathon Leg,” said Pitell-Vaughan. “But the CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Tacoma performed flawlessly in the dunes .”


If these tires could talk

The team nailed all 11 checkpoints without any major issues and had a solid pace during the 2-day leg. And being prepared didn’t hurt. Team American Chaos’ well-prepped Toyota Tacoma was a crowd stand-out.

“We torture tested the TC +2” Race series LT kit for 1048 kilometers through the most brutal terrain imaginable. The King shocks worked flawless,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “The TRD supercharger made navigating the dunes so easy and the Baja Designs LED Lights allowed us to find our way back to the bivouac at night.” All in a day’s work for the Morocco Taco.


Teammates pause to survey the scene

Unlike previous Gazelle Rallys, no sudden plot twists in the top were presented in these final few days, which demonstrated the utter concentration that went into these teams’ performances.

History in the making

Team American Chaos’ provisional results show they’ll likely keep their second place standing. And if that’s the case, they’ll be packing some well-deserved bragging rights.


There’s no monetary prize for podium-finishing, which Beavis is just fine with

No American team has ever podium-finished the 4×4 class in the rally’shistory, but this 26th edition will change that (in 2011 Emily Miller was the first American competitor to podium, alongside teammate Armelle Medard of France). Team #180 officially placing second will not only make them one of the first American teams to podium in 4×4 class (American Team #107 Hooehn/Hoehn’s provisional results show third place) they’ll become the highest ranking American team ever in the class. Not bad, Chaos.

Pushing limits, tackling the highest dunes in Morocco, Macgyveringvehicles – just another day for Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis.


Pitell-Vaughan in the middle of it all and loving it

“We had an amazing adventure filled with laughs,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “And Team 179 were awesome competitors that kept us in the game. Thank you to CDV mechanics for repairing the busted rear shock mount. Thanks to Zakaria and Atraxion 4×4 for rescuing the Morocco Taco from container prison. And thank you to team TC for believing in us.”

Rankings

Official final rankings, including today’s, are expected Saturday, April 2nd on the official rally website:

www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

MEDIA INQUIRES

David Brumbley
[email protected]
951.737.9682
All Photos: Nicole Dreon/Maïenga
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is the info about all the US teams.

Strong showing for Americans at Rallye Aicha des Gazelles
Provisional results show best-ever finish by U.S. teams

FOUM-ZGUID, Morocco (March 31, 2016) -- Early results show an impressive four U.S. teams in the Top 10 of the 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles -- a record performance for Americans in an event typically dominated by French entries.

After eight scored competition days wrapped up on Thursday, provisional rankings showed the team of Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis in second, making them the first all-American team to earn a podium in the 4x4 division in the rally's 26-year history. There were 162 starters in the event this year.

"Going into the final leg we knew it was tight and we went all-in," said Pitell-Vaughan, driver of the #180 Toyota Tacoma. "We doubled-down. There were times when the map said we could navigate straight and then we couldn't go straight at all. It happened twice, and we burned kilometers. The dealer took our cards."

The object of the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles is to navigate an as-the-crow-flies route through a series of hidden checkpoints in the Sahara Desert of Morocco. Using only a compass, and maps printed in the 1950s, competitors must plot a straight-line course across 630 miles of hostile desert terrain, off-roading across sand dunes, mountains, rocky lakebeds, ruts and washes.

It was an incredibly close contest. In a race where success is measured in distance rather than time, the American duo finished just over a mile behind the Swiss team of Regine Zbinden and Ela Steiner. The previous best achievement for an American in the contest was in 2011 when driver Emily Miller partnered with French navigator Armelle Medard and scored a runner-up result.

Third place also went to an American team. Sisters Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn overcame suspension trouble in their #107 Land Rover LR4 to earn their first podium in three years of competition.

They nearly didn't make it to the finish at all after the air suspension in their Land Rover went out late on Tuesday. But their mother Karen Hoehn, who was competing for the first time this year alongside navigator Maureen Gibbons in the #181 Land Rover LR4, gave up parts from her vehicle so her daughters could continue their podium charge. "Our mom has given us so much our entire life," said an emotional Jo Hannah Hoehn. "I thought that this event would finally be about her, and the event ended up being about us."

Also in the Top 10 in provisional results was the team of Emme Hall and Sabrina Howells, who placed fifth in the #178 Land Rover Defender. Ninth place went to Susie Saxten and rookie driver Ivy Cass in the #184 Jeep Wrangler.

All results are considered provisional pending post-race checks. Official results will be released Saturday at the official prize-giving ceremony in the coastal city of Essaouira, Morocco. The 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles ran from March 23 to March 31.

MORE:
Recaps and photo galleries are available for download at http://bit.ly/1RmgiLG.
Official rankings and event information is available at www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com


Americans Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis cut a line through the
dunes of Morocco in the #180 Toyota Tacoma. (Photo: Nicole Dreon / Rallye Aicha des Gazelles)


Rally Aïcha des Gazelles
USA Teams Notes and Quotes
March 30-31, 2016 (Day 7 & 8) FINAL LEG


Location: Mhamid/Foum-Zguid
Ideal distance: 235 km (146 miles)
Estimated time: 16 hours
11 Checkpoints (marathon)

RANKED 2nd (PROVISIONAL) Team #180 Nicole Pitell-Vaughan (Corona, California) / Chrissie Beavis (San Diego, California): Toyota Tacoma
Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis battled throughout the rally with eventual winners Regine Zbinden and Ela Steiner, only to miss the top of the 4x4 podium by 1.1 miles. "The rally is the most amazing adventure," said Pitell-Vaughan who returned to the event for a second time in 2016. "It's mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. You can never deviate from your game plan. You can't lose focus, because if you let your mind wander, it's like reeling in a 500 pound tuna."

Three-time navigator Beavis returns to the podium for a second time in 2016 after having won the Crossover division last year with driver Alyssa Roenigk. "It was fun to shoot for the win. I've been really proud to be here all three years and to have done well in it." In 2013, Beavis and professional surfer Bethany Hamilton finished ninth together.
RANKED 3rd (PROVISIONAL) Team #107 Susanah Hoehn (Carlsbad, California) / Jo Hannah Hoehn (Carlsbad, California): Land Rover LR4
The best finish for three-time competitors Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn was hard fought. The air suspension went out on the #107 Land Rover LR4 on Tuesday and mechanics were unable to repair it with the parts on hand. But their mother, fellow competitor Karen Hoehn, came to their rescue. Giving up her own race, she donated parts from her competition vehicle so that her daughters were able to continue theirs. "Leaving our mom behind was really hard," said an emotional Jo Hannah Hoehn at the finish.
RANKED 5th (PROVISIONAL) #178 Emme Hall (Oakland, California) / Sabrina Howells (Los Angeles, California): Land Rover Defender
With the most rally starts of any American at the rally, Sabrina Howells said she is happy to have completed her fourth Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. "No one at home understands what this is -- how hard it is but how fulfilling it is. You want to come back to this community of women and experience it with them again. I feel so much more confident after I do it," said Howells. "I live in Hollywood and everyone is gorgeous and successful and going to incredible parties. Something about this rally makes me love who I am, and I don't need to be anyone else."
RANKED 9th (PROVISIONAL) Team #184 Susie Saxten (Encinitas, California) / Ivy Cass (Encinitas, California): Jeep Wrangler
Team #184 were surprise contenders in 2016. Susie Saxten returned this year for her second run on the event, joined by longtime friend Ivy Cass -- a rookie driver. "I was really nervous coming here and about breaking the car. I didn't want to let Susie down," said Ivy Cass. "When I left California, I was waiting to hear from medical schools. Being at the rally has helped me to take my mind off it. I think I also proved to myself that I can do something that I didn't think I could, and I can apply that to my medical school path."
RANKED 20th (PROVISIONAL) Team #182 Teresa Stewart (Kauai, Hawaii) / Sara Jehn (Oahu, Hawaii): Jeep Wrangler
The mother-daughter team of Teresa Stewart and Sara Jehn put in a strong rookie performance in the 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles to score a provisional ranking of 20th in the 4x4 division and fifth in the first-time participation class. Stewart -- who suffers from CVID, an immune deficiency -- said she had concerns before the rally that she wouldn't be able to sustain the hardships of the competition. "Before, I thought there were things that my immune system was going to limit me from doing," said Stewart at the finish. "But now I know that's not true. I probably have never done anything so mentally and physically exhausting."
RANKED 57th (PROVISIONAL) Team #188 Elaine Newkirk (Rancho Santa Fe, California) / Keely Sellers (Kihei, Hawaii): Jeep Wrangler
First-time competitors Elaine Newkirk and Keely Sellers climbed the rally's steep learning curve this week. In the final three days, they achieved all of their checkpoints and rose through the 4x4 rankings to 57th. "I would highly recommend this to anyone," said Sellers. "But I think you do have to have some life experience before you take it on."
RANKED 102nd (PROVISIONAL) Team #127 Catherine Chiadmi (St. Petersburg, Florida) / Cecile Vinson (Vaucluse, France): Jeep Wrangler
A month after her Rallye Aicha des Gazelles debut in 2013, Catherine Chiadmi had a major seizure and was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was bigger than a baseball. "I worked on healing myself and becoming stronger," she said. "This year's Rally was a challenge to myself. I wanted to push myself to the limit and prove to myself that nothing is impossible, that all you have to do is believe."
RANKED 110th (PROVISIONAL) Team #181 Karen Hoehn (Del Mar, California) / Maureen Gibbons (Del Mar, California): Land Rover LR4
First time competitors Karen Hoehn and Maureen Gibbons cut their rally short Wednesday when they gave parts from their Land Rover LR4 to Hoehn's daughters -- Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn (who went on to finish third in 4x4). "It was absolutely the only decision," said Gibbons. "Any kind of ambivalence in life is hard. Definition makes everything clearer. As soon as we saw what happened, we were like: 'Can they take our car?'"

Hoehn, who entered the rally in 2016 as part of her 60th birthday celebrations this year, said competing in the rally left her with a new perspective on her daughters. "Wow: I knew my daughters were adventurous, but man do they have grit. I'm in awe they have come back three times." The team was penalized for missing the final leg but drove across the line Thursday to earn a finishing result.
 

spalind

Well-Known Member
Has Heidi Steele ever run this? I would have thought this female-centric event would be right up her alley.
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Here is the final info/results that came out about all of the US teams.

American teams score record results in 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles
Grueling off-road race concluded Saturday with official awards presentation


ESSAOUIRA, Morocco (April 2, 2016) -- After nine days of grueling off-road competition in Morocco, American teams claimed two podium spots in the hotly contested 4x4 division of the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. Final results saw four American teams placed in the top 10 and all eight U.S. entries awarded finish positions.

Southern California off-road racers Chrissie Beavis (Rally America) and Nicole Pitell-Vaughan (Best in the Desert) fought for the lead throughout the contest in their #180 Toyota Tacoma. They qualified for a first-place starting position and held the lead until Day 4 of the endurance event, when a strut mount broke and they had to limp through the remaining checkpoints of the day. The vehicle was repaired overnight, but they weren't able to make up the distance.

It was an incredibly close contest. In a race where advantage is measured in distance, rather than time, the pair finished an estimated 1.1 miles behind their closest rivals, the Swiss duo of Regine Zbinden and Ela Steiner. It was an historic finish for an all-U.S. team in the contest. The previous best finish for an American in the 4x4 division was in 2011 when U.S. driver Emily Miller partnered with French navigator Armelle Medard and scored a runner-up result. Beavis won the Crossover category in 2015 alongside driver Alyssa Roenigk.

"It was fun to shoot for the win," said Beavis. "I've been really proud to be here for three years and to have done well in it." Her debut year in the event was 2013 when Beavis, who is an X Games gold medalist for rally, competed alongside professional surfer Bethany Hamilton and finished 9th.

Considered the most prestigious all-women's motorsport event in the world, eight American teams took the line in 2016 -- all of them in the hotly contested 4x4 division. The unique competition is an off-road test of analog, dead reckoning navigation that this year covered more than 650 miles of hostile Moroccan desert terrain. A total of 162 international entries took the start March 23 for the 26th annual running of the event -- 135 of them in the 4x4 division.

Joining Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan on the podium, in third, were sisters Susanah and Jo Hannah Hoehn, of Carlsbad, California. The pair held a podium position throughout the rally but had a tense night on Thursday after the air suspension on their #107 Land Rover LR4 went out and mechanics at the overnight camp did not have the parts to repair it. But their mother, Karen Hoen, who had put a solid run on the event as a rookie alongside Maureen Gibbons in the #181 Land Rover LR4, gave up parts from her vehicle and abandoned their effort so that the sisters could continue their podium charge.

'Mama' Hoehn and teammate Gibbons took penalties for missing the final marathon leg of the rally but crossed the line on Friday to score a finishing position of 110th. "Our mom has given us so much our entire life," said Jo Hannah Hoehn. "I thought that this event would finally be about her, and the event ended up being about us. The good part is that she doesn't seem to mind. She was so excited the car got fixed, and we got out on the course."

Also in the top 10 were returning competitors Emme Hall, from Oakland, California, and Sabrina Howells, from Los Angeles. In a third start for Hall, and a fourth for Howells, the pair were consistently at the top of the rankings and entered the final two-day marathon leg of the rally prepared to battle into fourth place. But mechanical trouble with their Land Rover Defender saw them open the final day of the contest frantically trying to diagnose a battery problem and Howells said it threw them off their game for the day. "I think it affected us mentally," said Howells. "We started later then we wanted, and we got off-track in the dunes." The team ended up finishing fifth -- just one-third of a mile behind the Swiss team of Veronique de Sybourg-Siffert and Emilie Kuhni.

Susie Saxten and Ivy Cass, both from Encinitas, California, scored a ninth place result after finding their groove together early in the week. It was a first-time pairing for Saxten, who ran her first Rallye Aicha des Gazelles with her sister-in-law in 2015 but recruited rookie driver Cass to her team this year for their first top 10 result. "I wanted to come back and try out all of those things I learned last year right from the beginning," said Saxten.

In the rookie category, the mother-daughter team of Teresa Stewart, from Kauai, Hawaii, and Sara Jehn, from Oahu, Hawaii, earned a 20th place result in 4x4 and placed fifth of 96 teams in the novice category. They put forward a consistent performance throughout the contest and were never far from the lead group. Stewart, who suffers from an immune deficiency known as CVID, said she had concerns before the rally that she might not be able to complete it. "Before, I thought there were things that my immune system was going to limit me from doing. Now I know that's not true. I probably have never done anything so mentally and physically exhausting," she said.

In 29th position was the #188 Jeep Wrangler of Elaine Newkirk, from Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Keely Sellers, from Kihei, Hawaii. The novice pair struggled to find a rhythm early in the contest and got off to a poor start on Day 6 when they became stuck in the mud. But by the final, two-day marathon leg they found their pace together to score a final position in the top quarter of the rankings. Sellers said she was inspired by her children to take on the event. "I want to be a great example to my children to pursue adventure and to try their hardest at whatever task they try, never quit or give up, be a person of great integrity, thoughtful, and to love every minute of life."

And in a triumph of perseverance, the #127 U.S.-French entry of Catherine Chiadmi (St. Petersburg, Florida) and Cecile Vinson (Vaucluse, France) finished the rally ranked 102nd in their Jeep Wrangler. A month after her event debut in 2013, Chiadmi was diagnosed with a brain tumor bigger than a baseball. She vowed during recovery that she would return to the contest. "This year's rally was a challenge to myself," she said. "I wanted to push myself to the limit and prove to myself that nothing is impossible. That all you have to do is believe."

The 2016 event began with a prologue day March 23 in Erfoud, Morocco, and officially concluded April 2 with a prize-giving ceremony in the costal city of Essaouira. The event was comprised of six scored legs of off-road competition, including two marathon legs that sent teams out on their own for two days at a time and overnight alone in the desert in improvised camps.

Founded in 1990 by Dominique Serra and headquartered in France, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles provides an empowering challenge to women. In addition to competition, the organization is also committed to humanitarian efforts in the region through its charity, Coeur des Gazelles (Heart of Gazelles). The charity has provided funding for a number of projects including educational facilities, wells for clean water, and job training.

In 2016, the event again traveled with the Volkswagen Medical Caravan, which has provided medical care to more than 70,000 people in remote regions of Morocco since 2005. The rally is held under the patronage of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI and carries the official coat of arms of the Moroccan Royal Guard. The event conforms to strict environmental standards and is ISO 14001 certified.

MORE:
Recaps and photo galleries are available for download at http://bit.ly/1RmgiLG.
Full rankings and additional event information at www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com


Chrissie Beavis and Nicole Pitell-Vaughan celebrate their second-place result in the #180 Toyota Tacoma
at the finish of the 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. (Photo: Nicole Dreon / Rallye Aicha des Gazelles)


Sisters Susanah and Jo Hannah Hoehn, of Carlsbad, California, finished third in the
#107 Land Rover LR4. Photo: Nicole Dreon / Rallye Aicha des Gazelles




Eight American teams tackled the 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. Here, they pose
with camels before the victory parade on April 2. (Photo: Nicole Dreon / Rallye Aicha des Gazelles)

American Teams Official Ranking (4x4)
Rally Aicha des Gazelles, Morocco
March 23 - April 2, 2016

2nd -- Nicole Pitell-Vaughan (Corona, California) / Chrissie Beavis (San Diego, California): #180 Toyota Tacoma

3rd -- Susanah Hoehn (Del Mar, California) / Jo Hannah Hoehn (Del Mar, California): #107 Land Rover LR4

9th -- Susie Saxten (Encinitas, California) / Ivy Cass (Encinitas, California): #184 Jeep Wrangler

5th -- Emme Hall (Oakland, California) / Sabrina Howells (Los Angeles, California): #178 Land Rover Defender

20th (5th Novice) -- Teresa Stewart (Kauai, Hawaii) / Sara Jehn (Oahu, Hawaii): #182 Jeep Wrangler

57th -- Elaine Newkirk (Rancho Santa Fe, California) / Keely Sellers (Kihei, Hawaii): #188 Jeep Wrangler

102nd -- Catherine Chadmi (St. Petersburg, Florida) / Cecile Vinson (Vaucluse, France): #127 Jeep Wrangler

110th -- Karen Hoehn (Del Mar, California) / Maureen Gibbons (La Jolla, California): #181 Land Rover LR4
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
Team American Chaos Officially Makes History as Highest Ranking American Team Ever in 4x4 Class

April 4th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – This past weekend, Team #180 American Chaos became the highest-ranking American team ever in the 4×4 class of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles’ 26 year history.

With a beachside parade on Friday and prize ceremony the following day in the coastal town of Essaouira, Morocco, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis’ ranking of second place was officially confirmed.


Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan on the beaches of Essaouira, Morocco

In the hunt for the win since day one, the team fought crucially hard for the top spot. Beginning in first place of their 4×4 class, Team American Chaos slipped into second after Leg 3’s performance, where a scratch ranking of three ultimately shifted their overall ranking to two. Refusing to give up, they battled out the following competition days with consistency in both driving and navigation despite overcoming a broken rear shock mount, blinding windstorms, and a loss of daylight while assisting another U.S. team. A strong performance kept them in the top two throughout, but unfortunately wasn’t enough to clinch the coveted top spot.


Terrain varied from rocky to smooth and kept teams on their toes

Team #179 Régine Zbinden and Ela Steiner of Switzerland were a tough act to beat, with impeccably smooth, straight lines putting them in a prime position. In this ultimate moving chess game where competitors faced difficult decisions of strategy, Team American Chaos provided a nail-biting finish for not only their rivals, but also fans of the team and the rally. They finished just 1.82 km (1.13 miles) behind first place.


The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma performed flawlessly

“It was the kind of thing where we just did everything that we could,” said professional navigator Beavis. “We had excellent competition and it made it really fun and really challenging.”



The rally is a brutal test of skill and endurance, pushing competitors’ limits both physically and mentally. And Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis wouldn’t have it any other way. From crossing the famed Erg Chebbi dunes to the grandiose cliffs of M’daouer to rock crawling the Moroccan desert, these two brought their A-game and are proud to break a record for the United States.


Team American Chaos celebrate their finish

“I would like to thank CRC and TOTAL CHAOS for their support as well as all of our other program sponsors. And thank you Morocco for welcoming the rally,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “The game was so close and intense for nine straight days. Mental fatigue was a factor on day nine. It was an amazing experience. I look forward to returning to the States and beginning preparation to compete in the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race in August.”

MEDIA INQUIRES
David Brumbley
[email protected]
951.737.9682
All Photos: Nicole Dreon/Maïenga
 

Curtis Guise

Administrator
I have a quick note from Nicole and a few more pictures to post.

"On behalf of Team #180, Chrissie Beavis and I want to thank you for following our 2016 Rallye Aiicha de Gazelles adventure online! We hope it inspired a few of you to push yourselves past your comfort zone. This 9 day event in Africa is a test of physical strength, mental focus & mechanical durability. If you let it win for even a second and get distracted, you’re out of the game! Driving straight over rocks gets really old – really fast. It destroys our equipment. At times we moved mountains of rocks to maintain our heading. Driving the dunes is where the Morocco Taco shined though, and we gave the media crews a great show. Driving 9 days straight and over 1048 KM through the Sahara to earn a 2nd place finish was no easy feat. It was great to get the fan mail during the journey and we proudly accept this podium for the great Red, White & Blue. GO USA!!


For those of you that may be up for a similar type of women’s adventure and off road challenge here in the United States, check out more info on an event this Fall 2016 @ http://www.rebellerally.com/


— The Rebelle Rally is a 7 day adventure/expedition/navigation rally raid for women covering 2,000 kilometers of street legal trails across the Southwest deserts of California & Nevada that are rich with early American pioneer history.

— It is not a race for speed. It is a competition based on driving and navigation skills. Navigate to multiple hidden checkpoints via supplied headings and conclude the day at a mobile base camp. You will be using only maps, a compass, and a supplied road book. Sleep under the stars during the entire adventure.

— No GPS is allowed. Zero electronic devices are permitted. Disconnect from the daily grind for 7 full days.

— No personal support crews. Keeping your equipment together is part of the challenge. Mechanics are on site every night. It is a confidence test for team mates. It is sure to be an unforgettable off road adventure!

— Race vehicles are not permitted. This rally is designed for street legal vehicles that are daily or expedition rigs you would use on the weekend with the family. It will test a drivers' skill to drive smart and smooth - not fast. And will test the navigators role to prove they know their exact location on a map, can problem solve under fatigue, and I am sure will test the team's communication skills too - that is just part of the game spending 7 days in a tight office space. LOL


THANK YOU again for being an extended part of our off road adventure! Now go out and embark on your next off road trip. Or check out this really cool event planned for October 2016 in Nevada & California. " Sincerely, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan

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