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Thread: 2016 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles - Team #180 USA

  1. #21
    The girls are in second place (unofficially) after the final leg of the rally!

    March 31st, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has officially lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest all female sporting events on the planet. In the stretch of final Leg 6, two teams battled it out for the lead. One of them was Team #180 American Chaos, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis.

    The Final Countdown

    “My racing has taught me that it’s not over until it’s over,” – Chrissie Beavis, 2013.

    Team American Chaos began their morning back from a broken rear shock mount on Leg 5, where they had to drive in first and second gear only. It was sent to the mechanics that evening, but coupled with little sleep the night before, it’s safe to say they knew this final leg would be their ultimate test of endurance.

    Leg 6 was a 235 km landscape mixed with small dunes, a huge dry lakebed, and the famed Chegaga dunes. Although not as spectacular as the Erg Chebbi dunes, they are nonetheless haunting and have a reputation amongst competitors.

    Beavis remarked prior to Leg 6, “The Chegaga dunes can be tricky to navigate through if it’s a hazy or sand-stomy day. My fingers are crossed for good weather that day.”

    Unfortunately, Beavis did not get her wish. The winds kicked up and made long distance navigation virtually impossible, with sandstorms in the dunes so bad that teams could barely see the horizon. Since this is a competition about reading terrain features, that lack of visibiliy meant teams had use every ounce of mental sharpness left in them.

    Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis performed well the first day, nailing all of their checkpoints. Despite the weather, they seemingly breezed through a few expert X CPs early in the dunes.

    Going into the second day of the Final Leg, the competition still could not be predicted. First place Team #179 Zbinden/Steiner, two air-traffic controllers, had neatly impeccable lines – setting a difficult path for even the experienced to beat. Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis began on point, yet as their route continued, took a few wider lines which ultimately affected their score.

    “We gambled and went all in today, and we doubled down. The map lied where we thought we could save some kilometers and it made it more challenging because we were on a Marathon Leg,” said Pitell-Vaughan. “But the CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Tacoma performed flawlessly in the dunes .”

    The team nailed all 11 checkpoints without any major issues and had a solid pace during the 2-day leg. And being prepared didn’t hurt. Team American Chaos’ well-prepped Toyota Tacoma was a crowd stand-out.

    “We torture tested the TC +2” Race series LT kit for 1048 kilometers through the most brutal terrain imaginable. The King shocks worked flawless,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “The TRD supercharger made navigating the dunes so easy and the Baja Designs LED Lights allowed us to find our way back to the bivouac at night.” All in a day’s work for the Morocco Taco.

    Unlike previous Gazelle Rallys, no sudden plot twists in the top were presented in these final few days, which demonstrated the utter concentration that went into these teams’ performances.

    History in the making

    Team American Chaos’ provisional results show they’ll likely keep their second place standing. And if that’s the case, they’ll be packing some well-deserved bragging rights.

    No American team has ever podium-finished the 4×4 class in the rally’shistory, but this 26th edition will change that (in 2011 Emily Miller was the first American competitor to podium, alongside teammate Armelle Medard of France). Team #180 officially placing second will not only make them one of the first American teams to podium in 4×4 class (American Team #107 Hooehn/Hoehn’s provisional results show third place) they’ll become the highest ranking American team ever in the class. Not bad, Chaos.

    Pushing limits, tackling the highest dunes in Morocco, Macgyveringvehicles – just another day for Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis.

    “We had an amazing adventure filled with laughs,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “And Team 179 were awesome competitors that kept us in the game. Thank you to CDV mechanics for repairing the busted rear shock mount. Thanks to Zakaria and Atraxion 4×4 for rescuing the Morocco Taco from container prison. And thank you to team TC for believing in us.”


    Official final rankings, including today’s, are expected Saturday, April 2nd on the official rally website:

    Rallye Aïcha des gazelles


    David Brumbley
    All Photos: Nicole Dreon/Maïenga

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Congrats and thanks for the links and writeups.

  3. #23
    Team American Chaos Officially Makes History as Highest Ranking American Team Ever in 4x4 Class

    April 4th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – This past weekend, Team #180 American Chaos became the highest-ranking American team ever in the 4×4 class of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles’ 26 year history.

    With a beachside parade on Friday and prize ceremony the following day in the coastal town of Essaouira, Morocco, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis’ ranking of second place was officially confirmed.

    In the hunt for the win since day one, the team fought crucially hard for the top spot. Beginning in first place of their 4×4 class, Team American Chaos slipped into second after Leg 3’s performance, where a scratch ranking of three ultimately shifted their overall ranking to two. Refusing to give up, they battled out the following competition days with consistency in both driving and navigation despite overcoming a broken rear shock mount, blinding windstorms, and a loss of daylight while assisting another U.S. team. A strong performance kept them in the top two throughout, but unfortunately wasn’t enough to clinch the coveted top spot.

    Team #179 Régine Zbinden and Ela Steiner of Switzerland were a tough act to beat, with impeccably smooth, straight lines putting them in a prime position. In this ultimate moving chess game where competitors faced difficult decisions of strategy, Team American Chaos provided a nail-biting finish for not only their rivals, but also fans of the team and the rally. They finished just 1.82 km (1.13 miles) behind first place.

    “It was the kind of thing where we just did everything that we could,” said professional navigator Beavis. “We had excellent competition and it made it really fun and really challenging.”

    The rally is a brutal test of skill and endurance, pushing competitors’ limits both physically and mentally. And Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis wouldn’t have it any other way. From crossing the famed Erg Chebbi dunes to the grandiose cliffs of M’daouer to rock crawling the Moroccan desert, these two brought their A-game and are proud to break a record for the United States.

    “I would like to thank CRC and TOTAL CHAOS for their support as well as all of our other program sponsors. And thank you Morocco for welcoming the rally,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “The game was so close and intense for nine straight days. Mental fatigue was a factor on day nine. It was an amazing experience. I look forward to returning to the States and beginning preparation to compete in the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race in August.”

    David Brumbley
    All Photos: Nicole Dreon/Maïenga

  4. #24
    I have a quick note from Nicole and a few more pictures to post.

    "On behalf of Team #180, Chrissie Beavis and I want to thank you for following our 2016 Rallye Aiicha de Gazelles adventure online! We hope it inspired a few of you to push yourselves past your comfort zone. This 9 day event in Africa is a test of physical strength, mental focus & mechanical durability. If you let it win for even a second and get distracted, you’re out of the game! Driving straight over rocks gets really old – really fast. It destroys our equipment. At times we moved mountains of rocks to maintain our heading. Driving the dunes is where the Morocco Taco shined though, and we gave the media crews a great show. Driving 9 days straight and over 1048 KM through the Sahara to earn a 2nd place finish was no easy feat. It was great to get the fan mail during the journey and we proudly accept this podium for the great Red, White & Blue. GO USA!!

    For those of you that may be up for a similar type of women’s adventure and off road challenge here in the United States, check out more info on an event this Fall 2016 @

    — The Rebelle Rally is a 7 day adventure/expedition/navigation rally raid for women covering 2,000 kilometers of street legal trails across the Southwest deserts of California & Nevada that are rich with early American pioneer history.

    — It is not a race for speed. It is a competition based on driving and navigation skills. Navigate to multiple hidden checkpoints via supplied headings and conclude the day at a mobile base camp. You will be using only maps, a compass, and a supplied road book. Sleep under the stars during the entire adventure.

    — No GPS is allowed. Zero electronic devices are permitted. Disconnect from the daily grind for 7 full days.

    — No personal support crews. Keeping your equipment together is part of the challenge. Mechanics are on site every night. It is a confidence test for team mates. It is sure to be an unforgettable off road adventure!

    — Race vehicles are not permitted. This rally is designed for street legal vehicles that are daily or expedition rigs you would use on the weekend with the family. It will test a drivers' skill to drive smart and smooth - not fast. And will test the navigators role to prove they know their exact location on a map, can problem solve under fatigue, and I am sure will test the team's communication skills too - that is just part of the game spending 7 days in a tight office space. LOL

    THANK YOU again for being an extended part of our off road adventure! Now go out and embark on your next off road trip. Or check out this really cool event planned for October 2016 in Nevada & California. " Sincerely, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan


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