Bethany Hamilton and Teammate Chrissie Beavis Finish in Top Ten at Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles; Earning Highest Score for First Time American Participants
March 28, 2013 (Foumz Zguid, Morocco) - Fierce competition was in the air during the final leg of the 2013 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. Gazelles, a women-only event, covers 2,500 kilometers of sandy dunes of the western Sahara desert, with only a compass and a 1:100,000 scale map to plot the teams route between check points. The winner is not the fastest team but the one that has traveled the least number of kilometers on the onboard odometer between checkpoints within a given time frame.
The final two-day Marathon Leg consisted of the famous Chegaga dunes, navigation challenges for even the most experienced teams and a surprising twist with the two top contenders suffering mechanical failures. The teams called in for mechanical assistance resulting in a 200-penalty point each and an instant shake up in the top ten standings.
For American team #136 Hamilton/Beavis, the first day proved difficult according to driver Hamilton. "At CP2, there were small dunes which you think would be easy, but there were no distinctive features for us, no point of reference. At one point, we didn't know where we were and it was very difficult to take a heading."
The team bounced back later in the day with smooth driving amidst a steering alignment issue that began at CP 5X. Beavis, who is also a mechanic, was unsure of what caused the issue. "At one point Bethany put the car in reverse and the steering became easier. I'm not sure what was going on but luckily we were able to finish out the dunes."
With Team #136 holding a steady 11th place with 357.19 points before the final leg, they climbed up 3 spots to an 8th place finish overall. For first time competitors, plus given the fact Hamilton has no off-road experience, it's impressive to say the least. For Beavis, whose goal was to win the First Participation Challenge and place in the Top Ten, the result is rewarding. "Compared to rally racing where in the blink of an eye my 3-day competition is over, I pretty much went in blind. This has been an incredibly grueling race with lots of highs and lows, but overall I have to say some fantastic competition took place here and it's been an experience of a lifetime."
Congratulations Bethany and teammate Chrissie Beavis on an amazing race!
To find more information on all participating teams please visit: www.rallyeaichadesgazelles