Bernard Dejonghe, a key member of the team
At the age of 16, Bernard was already starting to strip and rebuild cars. Coming from a family of farmers in the Beauvais region, he soon started working on tractors. During his long career with Massey Ferguson, he spent a month and a half driving between Paris and Dakar, delivering tractors to farmers along the way. Today, back home, he spends his time restoring old tractors and old cars.
This 30th edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is a special one for Bernard. Every year, for 16 years, he has been a part of the event’s mechanics workshop. What makes him come back, year after year? His Moroccan friends and mechanics: “It’s thanks to them that we manage to take care of so many vehicles; they’re brave as anything”. In spite of everything, it is hard physical work, and the nights are short, with just 3 or 4 hours of sleep (although a micro-nap always helps!) At 75 years old, he has decided to retire. This is his last Rallye.
The highlights of these 16 years of dedication? There are many. It is above all the bonds created with the Gazelles over the cars that will stay with him: “We really see a transformation in the Gazelles as the competition progresses. At the end of the Rallye, you get the impression that they have matured by 2 or 3 years: you don’t even recognize them anymore”. And the recognition for his work. “When the boss – i.e., Dominique Serra – calls all the mechanics up onto the stage; it’s quite something”.
For his last year, Bernard is taking pictures for the first time: to share with his wife and to keep the memories alive.