Friday’s Leg Two of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles began with the steady pace brought forth by American Team #136 Beavis/Hamilton. The team rose in the morning to find themselves holding firmly on to 6th place, thanks to smooth, fast driving and carefully chosen lines leaving them at 5.04km points (ISUZU.) In front of them, top veterans such as Dakar driver Elisabete Jacinto and teammate Valerie Dot (Team # 160 – VW) at 3.45 km, Jeannette James and teammate Anne-Marie Borg (Team # 161- VW) at 3.55 km points, Carole Montillet and teammate Julie Verdaguer (Team # 187- ISUZU) at 4.43 points, as well as Laura Nigido-Amisse and teammate Valerie Sanfourche (Team # 147 -ISUZU) at 4.50 and Angélique Alvergnas and teammate Sidonie Dubrule (Team # 162 – VW at 4.64 km.) American Team #136 Beavis/Hamilton is also in 2nd place in the ISUZU Media Challenge as of early Saturday the 23rd (with Women’s Adventure Magazine as media partner) and 1st place in the 1st time Competitor Challenge. It’s noteworthy that Hamilton has no professional driving experience and this is her first time competing in a rally raid.
The 12-hour endurance race at Glen Helen Raceway always seems to take place on the hottest day in June. As temps soared into the 90’s, the riders would take on another challenge with not only racing, but by trying to stay hydrated and healthy all day long.
The all women’s team of Blais Racing Services on their KTM 280 XCF-W would take the lead after the drop of the banner at approximately 7:40am, as their competitors, sponsored by AS Racing, would lose the ribbon during their first lap. The 20-minute lead by the Blais Racing team of Shayla Fulfer, Sarah Kritsch and Tricia Lane would last until the afternoon as the AS Racing team was reeling them in little by little, at one point with only a 10-minute gap, down to 8 minutes, down to 2 minutes then taking over the lead at about 2:00pm in the afternoon. The AS Racing team headed by long-time desert champ, Anna Cody, was starting to turn some fast lap times.
As the Blais Racing girls stayed consistent, even though they were in a solid second place for a few hours, they never gave up the fight and rode hard until the very end. With team leader Chris Blais at the helm, his famous words were spoken throughout the day, “It’s never over until the checkered flag. Anything can still happen.”
With only a few laps to go, the AS Racing team would swap bikes and take their second bike out of the impound area, since their first bike was starting to have some issues.
During the very last lap as the white flag waved (indicating 1 more lap to go), something would happen with the bike of the AS Racing team, causing them to be stuck on the side of the trail. (We had heard later that the clutch gave out). Tricia Lane of the Blais Racing team would bring home the victory, crossing the finish-line as the checkered flag waved some twelve hours later just after 7:40pm.
“It was a great battle all day long, all the way down to the end. We all wanted to win and we all pushed really hard,” Chris Blais said. “The girls rode awesome and the bike worked flawlessly. We had a lot of support in our pit today with family members and friends and it was just a fun time no matter what. I want to thank our friend and KTM mechanic, Anthony DiBasilio, who came out to help us on his day off to make sure everything was perfect with our bike. We are all very proud of the whole entire team. Great job to our riders; Shayla, Sarah and Tricia! Congrats also to the AS Racing team for a great showing and for some awesome riding by their women’s team as well.”