Yes, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a race, but often it’s the team with the best adventure that gets the biggest props. Winner of the best adventure so far in 2015 is Team #23: Sarah Price and Erica Sacks. The first American team to compete in a Side-by-Side, Price is a former X Games medalist in motocross, while Sacks is an accomplished gymnast with desert racing experience.
Their adventure began before the race even started. Their vehicle didn’t arrive in time for the Prologue because of a snowstorm in the Atlas Mountains. Then when the team took the line for Thursday’s Leg 1, they made a navigation error and went to the wrong checkpoint. Because of this, they missed one of their potential fuel spots and eventually ran out of gas. The women had to spend the night in the desert, until rally officials were able to deliver fuel. They didn’t return to the bivouac until 3:30 a.m.—just 30 minutes before Friday’s wake up call.
After a rough start to their Rally, Team #23, Sara Price/Erica Sacks rallied back in the dunes
While the team seemed to shake off a tough first go and made five of Friday’s checkpoints, bad luck struck again when they got stranded near a cliff band as it got dark on Friday night. Because they couldn’t see any features to navigate, they had to spend another night away from the bivouac without a sleeping bag or tent. While most competitors would likely have thrown in the towel, the American team dug in.
After arriving back to the bivouac at 10 a.m. Saturday morning (four hours after the start of the third leg) they picked up their maps, plotted their checkpoints and went on to complete all of the “X” checkpoints before making it back to the bivouac well before sunset and in time for a shower.
“We were struggling in the dunes,” said fellow competitor Sarah Saxten, “when out of nowhere came Sarah and Erica. It was like a gift from heaven. Right when I wanted someone to drag us out of the dunes, they came and nudged us in the right direction.”
About: The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a grueling test of driving skill and navigation across southern Morocco’s most beautiful and challenging terrain. The rally is unique whereby teams are not allowed technological assistance. In the absence of GPS, communications and service crews, teams must find the shortest distance between the checkpoints over nine days of competition with only the aid of traditional navigation – compass, outdated maps, and plotters. The event is an incredible test of endurance, patience, and teamwork, pushing competitors to their limits. The rally includes nine days of competition (including the prologue) broken up into six stages. While the last day of racing will conclude on April 2nd, the official results won’t be announced until Saturday, April 4th in the coastal town of Essaouira.