The rally Aïcha des Gazelles

The rally Aïcha des Gazelles

The Aïcha des Gazelles rally is one of the toughest races in the world and only women can take part. Thus far, an IMG_5431Austrian team has never competed in the event. This, however, will change with the 27th running of this charity race and the participation of Veronika Grabher’s team.

Veronika, who was born in Vorarlberg and is of Moroccan descent, decided to put together the first Austrian team this year. Why? For one thing, some of the proceeds are donated to charity and thus as a woman she has a chance to empower other women. Above all, she wants to strengthen women and change their image in society. Furthermore, the proceeds will provide families and children with medical care and education. These considerations are enough of a reason for the ambitious woman from Vorarlberg to take on the rigours of this project.

8 days to the limit

340 participants from 25 countries start in Nice and will have covered around 7,000 kilometres when they get back from Essaouira, Morocco. In addition to the strain caused by the difficulties of the route – dunes, dried out river beds, sand storms – the participants will also have to deal with temperatures ranging from 40 to 0 degrees, which puts the body under an enormous amount of stress.

The race is not won by the fastest driver, but rather by the driver who takes the shortest route. The only navigational aids allowed are maps from the 1950s. So there will not be any GPS.

And what about the environment?

The organisers take great measures to ensure that the rally is carried out in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Hence the idea that the team that travels the shortest distance is the winner. Great value is placed on ensuring that there is as little rubbish as possible and that no plastic is used. Even necessary toiletries like shower gel must be biodegradable to ensure that the desert is not unnecessarily burdened with waste.

The environmental factor is also of utmost importance for Veronika Grabher. Her Toyota Land Cruiser has therefore been set-up as a zero-emission vehicle right from the outset.


Amateur footage from the first test drive