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The eurospare – GITI Gazelles Off Road adventure at the Dames de Coeur 2024

How the GITI Gazelles Off Road Team faced their latest adventure? Discover the behind the scenes of an exciting and challenging week end of the eurospare – GITI Gazelles Off Road Team during the racing at the Dames de Coeur 2024.

Step 1 – Preparation and Arrival

Jenni arrived in France on Tuesday, May 7th, setting the stage for an exciting rally adventure. The following day was dedicated to refreshing our knowledge of the road book and fine-tuning our teamwork. With our Defender, Delilah, packed and thoroughly checked, we were ready for the journey ahead.

eurospare defender at Dames de Coeur

Step 2 – The Start at Chateau de Dree

On Thursday, May 9th, we traveled to our meeting point at the picturesque Chateau de Dree in Curbigny. By 2 pm, Delilah was parked in the central courtyard, ready for technical checks and event stickers. Reuniting with friends from previous rallies and the organization team was a highlight. We enjoyed a private tour of the chateau before heading in convoy to our rally base at Matour.

Step 3 – Formalities and Fellowship

Upon arrival in Matour, we completed various formalities, including team presentations and settling into the hostel. The evening was filled with camaraderie as each team shared a regional specialty during a casual apero.

dames de coeur defender rally debrief

Day 1: Navigational Challenges and Technical Triumphs

Friday morning began with anticipation as we collected the day’s road books at 7:30 am and marked them up during breakfast. After a morning briefing, we were off, navigating the diverse tracks around Matour. From narrow, overgrown paths to steep rocky climbs and forestry tracks, the terrain tested our skills and Delilah’s capabilities.

dames de coeur road book

Early on, we encountered a road book glitch and a steep, muddy descent ending in deeply rutted tracks. Delilah handled it well, but a broken selector lever linkage meant we were stuck in low range, slowing us down on tarmac sections.

Despite another road book glitch delaying us before lunch, the rest of the morning was smooth. After lunch, we faced one of the rally’s most technical climbs, reaching the Roche d’Ajoux at 970 meters above sea level. Recent rains had exposed more rocks, but we navigated them successfully, earning praise for our climbing prowess.

The afternoon continued with technical climbs, including a narrow, rocky track up a mountain. We noted the cab temperature reached 27.7 degrees! After a final muddy descent, we finished the day at 8 pm, although the last crews arrived much later. A shower and meal were much needed before a restless sleep, still reliving the day’s challenges.

Day 2: A Close Call and Determined Finish

Saturday promised another hot day. Morning briefing brought news of a shorter course due to impassable sections from recent rains. We started through pastoral scenery, but a freak accident nearly ended our rally just before 10 am.

After passing a wooded section, a huge bang and scraping noise startled us. A large tree branch had crashed into the Defender, injuring Jenni with a broken collarbone. With help from other crews, we extricated the branch and continued, despite Jenni’s pain. At the lunch stop, a doctor confirmed the break, but Jenni insisted on finishing the day.

Despite being shaken, we completed the day and returned to base. While Jenni rested, Helen managed to re-engage high range, crucial for our 6-hour journey home.

dames de coeur accident tree

Final Reflections and Future Plans

We finished the rally in a slightly disappointing 9th place, but given the challenges, we were pleased to have completed it at all. Motorsport is indeed dangerous, but being attacked by a tree was unexpected!

Jenni will need 6-8 weeks to heal, delaying our plans to compete in the UK in June. However, our Dakar Classic project is progressing, with Purdey’s build set to start in July. More updates on that soon!

cleaning defender race dames de coeur

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