Student - February 18, 2016

Racing through the desert

Two girls who travel ten thousand kilometres in an old Renault 4. Partially on dirt roads, through the desert. Julia van Oord and Jori Bremer, both master plant science students will start their adventure this month.

All her life it had been her dream to participate in the French 4L Trophy, an annual student rally through the Moroccan desert, explains Jori who grew up in France. And she already possessed the mandatory Renault 4. The student rally will start the 18th of February and will take ten days from the French Biarritz to the Moroccan Marrakesh and is a big happening in France. ‘It is not about the time, but how you take obstacles like sand dunes,’ says Jori.

In total 3000 students are participating with 1500 cars. The rally will partially be driven through the desert, which according to both girls is going to be a big challenge. Julia: ‘We also have sand ladder and shovels with us in case we get stuck in the sand. It is also expected that you help each other. People often work together, with whoever they encounter. So not only a competition atmosphere, but also team spirit.’ Julia also hopes to improve her French during the conversations with other participants around the campfire, after a long day of driving.

The girls will have to find their way with a map and a compass. Jori: ‘I am looking forward to the point where the road stops and the sand begins. We have never driven that way and it will be a real challenge.’ Julia adds: ‘But that is also the scariest part.’ Luckily the girls drive a 4x4 van version, although it is already 27 years old. ‘Something will probably break,’ Julia laughs.  But she is not afraid of broken parts, after the repair course that Jori followed last summer and the spare parts they brought along. Luckily the girls will also receive support from a maintenance team, helicopters and doctors can be deployed, somebody will cook for them and the camping is organized after every day.

They will not only have fun. ‘I also think that it will be difficult,’Jori nods. ‘It is not easy to spend two weeks, eight hours a day, in a car. And we will also be shaking the whole time because it is partially dirt road.’ But not only the driving will be a challenge, also camping, Julia fears. ‘It can be really cold in the nights, especially in the desert. It will be difficult if you have not slept well because of the cold, and then have to drive the whole day.’

The participants also have to contribute to the good cause of the rally: every team is required to bring at least two backpacks full of school items and two sport bags full of sport items, to be able to support the isolated desert people. ‘We had to spend much more time to find sponsors than we had expected. That was frustrating at times. In France it is popular but in the Netherlands nobody really knows the rally,’ Julia explains.

Nevertheless, the girls were able to collect a lot of money and items. As a birthday present Julia received all sorts of sponsor material. ‘I look forward to the ceremony at the end where all the sport- and school items are collected and where the sponsorship revenue acquired is announced,’ says Jori. ‘Last year no less than 60 ton of school and sports items were collected and the money was used to build classrooms and sanitation. It is great if you can contribute to this.’

You can follow the adventures of Jori and Julia on their Facebookpage.