“We’ve been waiting for so long, now here we are!”: the adventure begins at Palais Nikaïa

Nice | Checks

After eighteen months of waiting, the big day is finally here! 155 teams of Gazelles gathered at 6:30 on this Friday morning at Palais Nikaïa, Nice for the traditional technical, administrative and medical verifications, a necessary step before being able to take the start and head for Morocco. “We are proud to have you at this 30th edition. We would like to thank you all for being here!” welcomes Marina Vrillacq, Director General of Maïenga.

To enter the Palais Nikaïa, the Gazelles must show their health pass. This is carefully checked by the organization, which has set up an Anti-Covid Brigade for the occasion. “Covid is going to be an additional battle to fight this year”, warns Dominique Serra, creator of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc.

The coronavirus may not be giving up, but neither are the rally’s organizers! To make sure the virus doesn’t spoil the party, Maïenga has set up medical stations supervised by the event’s medical officer, Julien Lorber.

The Gazelles’ arrival at Palais Nikaïa de Nice for this thirtieth edition therefore begins with a PCR test, although vaccination is mandatory.
All staff and organizers have also been fully vaccinated and tested.

For Team 182 (Fanette CADOU / Vanessa PAILLET), it’s time for their photo shoot. The Gazelles are proud to put on their “long-awaited” Rallye vest, the unmistakable symbol of being part of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. As the Rallye takes place under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, the participants have the great privilege of bearing the royal coat of arms of Morocco. “We’ve seen photos of the vest, we’ve been admiring it for months, and now we’re finally wearing it!” comments Fanette. The vest for this 30th anniversary edition – in white and gold for participants – was created by the famous designers of Marithé François Girbaud. “The vest is such a symbol. With all the postponements, I couldn’t believe it was happening until I put on my vest”, says Julie of Team 217 (Julie LAMBOLEY / Karine LUONG), who is convinced that “this edition is going to be super special“.

We’ve been waiting for so long, now here we are!“, exclaims Stéphanie of Team 178 (Stéphanie DEMEUSE-VAN STRYDONCK / Martine TROUSSET-VAN DE MOORTELE), who admits: “I haven’t fully realized it yet, but putting on the vest makes it more concrete”. She and teammate Martine left their native Belgium on Thursday morning. 13 different nationalities will be represented on the start line of this 30th edition. Belgium, Switzerland, the UK… and, of course, Morocco! Someone else who hasn’t quite realized it yet is Dominique Serra, Rallye founder and president of Maïenga. “It’s been such a long time, it hasn’t sunk in that we’re actually doing it “, says the “queen of the Gazelles”, visibly moved.

In addition to their precious vests, each team receives a “welcome pack” containing gifts from our partners that are sure to be useful in the desert: a pen and a Kinder insulated water bottle from Ferrero France, a mug and a buff from Goodyear, a Bosch car Service mechanics repair kit and a Koni microfibre sponge for cleaning the windshield. Briefed and equipped, the Gazelles are now ready for the day of verifications.