Princesses: On the Road Again
Saint Tropez, France – Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille (The Richard Mille Princess Rally) reached its final destination, the seaside town of Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera with azure blue sea and sky, on June 6th. It was a fabuous finale with the winners emerging at the last minute. Carole Gratzmuller and Elisa Noémie Laurent in their jaunty and fabulous Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, drove in to Carole’s fifth victory and the third for her co-pilot.
One of the most glamorous automobile rallies hit the beautiful roads of France last June 2nd as the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille (The Richard Mille Princess Rally) shifted into gear for the 20th time. This great road trip is composed of exclusively feminine teams and this year it kicked off from the Place Vendôme on June 2nd to wind up on the French Riviera in Saint-Tropez on June 6th, The first stage of 188 miles took the cars from Paris to the Beauval Zoo, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world before heading off on June 3rd for Stage 2 to reach the thermal resort of Vichy 201 miles later.
The Rallye des Princesses is a regularity rally on open roads with safety as well as compliance with the Highway Code on all of the sites and villages that are crossed being the first concern. The goal is to stay as close as possible to the targeted average speed while covering a set distance along a scheduled itinerary, a real road trip so to speak and so high speed racing capabilities are not part of the selection criteria. The winners are those who navigate their way through the race while carefully maintaining the ideal time from A to B. Arrivals are carefully kept secret and monitored by GPS.
Stage 3 left Vichy on June 4th and heads down the road for 211 miles to arrive in Aix-Les-Bains, another thermal resort located on the shores of the Lac du Bourget (Lake Bourget), France’s deepest lake.
This type of rally requires of the participants considerable focus and accuracy and since the average speed is based upon the vehicle’s age, older cars can effectively compete with younger models. The 90 crews participating in the rally will traverse 17 departments of France as well as 280 cities and villages over 1,000 miles over picturesque small roads. Participant represent 10 nationalities and range in age from 15 to 65-years-old while the cars date from between 1946 to 1985. Behind the wheels of often legendary cars the 180 competitors face small roads, hills, descents and hairpin turns. Sporty elegant, courageous and fun are the hallmarks of the rally. .
« By creating the Princesses’ Rally in 1999, I am particularly proud and happy to have contributed to demonstrate that women like beautiful cars, too, » explains Viviane Zaniroli, the organizer of the rally who had noticed over the years that women who participate in these types of events are often relegated to the role of co-pilot. Enter the Rallye des Princesses in which pilot and co-pilot are both women.
Among the superb cars participating in the race are an Austin Healey, a Porsche 356, a Pontiac and the mythical Mustang. Participants this year include Séverine Loeb, the wife of the greatest world champion rally racer (nine wins) Sébastien Loeb and the American champion Aurora Strauss who at the age of 20 has the same age as the rally and has been invited by the watchmaking house of Richard Mille. The event’s main sponsor is the cutting edge watch brand Richard Mille born of its eponymous creator’s passion for motorsports and extreme technicality. On June 5th the rally’s 4th leg departs from Aix-Les-Bains to head to the mythical seaside town of Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera 253 miles later. Stage 5 is slated to be held on June 6th in and around Saint Tropez. Stay tuned for regular updates.
©The Gourmet Gazette