Team American Chaos Begins Leg 2 in First Place of the 4×4 Class

by chaosfab on March 25, 2016

March 25th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – There are only eight American teams competing in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles this year, and three of them began today’s Leg in an impressive top ten of their 4×4 class.  Leading the way in first place was Team #180 Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis in their CRC/TOTAL CHAOS 2014 Toyota Tacoma.


The “Morocco Taco” handling the rugged terrain

Team #180, who came in second in the unscored Prologue on Wednesday, piloted their way to all their checkpoints on Leg 2.  The course was 115 km with an estimated time of 9 hours.  Terrain varied from rocky sections to flat plains and low walls.

Views from just about anywhere in the competition are breathtaking

Views from just about anywhere in the competition are breathtaking

A feature synonymous with the rally, a wide oued (dried out riverbed), greeted teams about halfway through the course. Competitors were cautioned during the morning briefing to take the trail option as opposed to drive straight across levels of difficulty that could pose a threat to even the most capable vehicles.

Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan handled the landscapes today in focused competition mode, fully aware that keeping their momentum up throughout the next six days is key as the rally is really won on the final few Legs.

“The top competitors will all be close at the end,” stated Pitell-Vaughan.  “There are great drivers who have done this rally for several years now. Being only my second year, the terrain is still very new.  I’m learning as I go. Chrissie has an advantage with navigation and reading the maps since this is her third year.”

Beavis in her element

Beavis in her element

Beavis, who as a navigator is a two-time X Games medalist, also happens to be a student pilot.  Like navigators in the rally, airplane pilots must also use headings and distances and have a strong sense of mechanics to check for any issues. Her experience and skill in the sky certainly do not hurt the team.

“I actually have suspended my training while we are working on our house, but I hope to resume flying next year,” said Beavis.  “I fly small planes around San Diego and have had a few chances to fly in aerobatic planes which is what I want to do eventually. There are definitely a lot of parallels with being a navigator in this rally and a pilot in the air.”

Miles of sand

Miles of sand

Coming Up

Two words come to mind with the Marathon Legs – grueling and dunes. Teams will head off to their first Marathon Leg tomorrow and camp out under the night sky in groups together. For some, the exhaustion from the long days is counteracted by a break away from the norm of the competition.

“To me, the Marathon Legs are really what the rally is all about,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “They definitely give you the ability to relax and  connect with your time and space on the globe. Taking it all in and checking out the stars is awesome.”

Go Time

Go Time

Plus, Pitell-Vaughan, an experienced driver and racer, truly enjoys time behind the wheel during the Marathon and especially the dunes.  “I’m really looking forward to driving the dunes tomorrow. I actually love the entire adventure that is the Marathon Leg.”

Beavis has a new perspective heading into the dunes this year, and with Pitell-Vaughan steering the Tacoma, is looking forward to the challenge.

“Nicole is awesome in the dunes,” Beavis said.  “After testing out in Glamis, I have a whole new appreciation for the sand. In past years I was downright scared of it; seriously, I’d get anxious just looking at the little dots on the map that mean ‘sand’.  But now those dots mean fun.”

Watch Team #180’s performance in their first Marathon Leg together live via the link below:


starts Saturday 6 a.m. local time (11 p.m PST)

Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day on the official rally website:


David Brumbley


All Photos:  Maïenga