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Interview

Manal and Armelle off and running in Aïcha des Gazelles 2024

Manal et Armelle, Gazelles des Hauts-de-France au Rallye Aicha des Gazelles 2024
Manal and Armelle, 'Gazelles des Hauts-de-France' © All rights reserved

They are called the Gazelles des Hauts-de-France (Gazelles of Northern France) and are proud to be competing in support of the Monaco Liver Disorder charity.

The ‘Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc 2024’ (all-female car rally in Morocco) kicked off on Saturday 12 April with a variety of activities. All the crews were invited to the Espace Fontvieille to celebrate the start of the rally’s 33rd edition along with friends and family, as well as Prince Albert II.

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Manal Faxelle & Armelle Médard, the “Les Gazelles des Hauts-de-France” team in the E-Gazelle Innovation category, answered our questions last Friday in the run-up to the rally.

The pair are taking part together for the first time, and showcasing Monaco Liver Disorder (MLD), a charity that is close to their hearts. The Monegasque non-profit, of which Princess Charlene is Honorary President, combats all rare childhood liver diseases.

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First up, who are they? Armelle, who works for an airline in Paris, is taking part in the Rallye des Gazelles for the 12th time, and for the third time in the electric category. Manal is a regional manager for a dental company in Saint-Quentin and is taking part in the rally for the fifth time, her second in the electric category.

Manal (left)  and Armelle  © All rights reserved

You’ve known each other for a year. Manal, how did you meet Armelle?

We’d already seen each other during the rally, she’d taken part with other co-drivers. Two years ago, the guy in charge of the electric rally, Fabien Lagier, wanted to include an SUV in the category. He really wanted to give it to an experienced duo. I wasn’t available, but Armelle was, and she took it. That was our connection. Then gradually we became closer and had the idea of forming our duo. It was a match straight away, she thinks like me and I think like her, plus we were both experienced. I’m really proud to be able to drive with Armelle because she’s a totally committed and inspiring woman, and we’re both happy to be supporting the charity.

Manal, why MLD and not another cause?

My nephew had a liver transplant 8 years ago, which means that a child had died but saved my nephew, so it speaks to me and touches me a lot. I will always do whatever I can to support the charity. I’ve been an ambassador for several years.

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It’s a real wake-up call when you have someone begging you for a bottle of water.

Armelle, this rally is close to your heart. Has taking part changed you?

It’s a real wake-up call when you have someone begging you for a bottle of water. I now pay a lot of attention to what I eat and drink. Even though a car rally through the desert isn’t very environmentally friendly, we do try to make it as green as possible. The rally has helped make me more ecologically aware. At home nobody uses combustion engines any more. We all use electric vehicles.

Are your children proud of you?

Of course our children are proud of us. It’s a bit of a sensitive subject today, because I know I’m not going to see them for three weeks. I’m trying not to burst into tears. But yesterday my little girl was saying “Mummy! You’re going to win!” No pressure!


It’s certainly great motivation for the two drivers who will experience the adventure together for the first time. These gazelles know the desert very well and hope to conquer it again. The rally takes place from 12 to 27 April and you can follow their adventures on their Facebook page as well as on the Rallye des Gazelles website.