First place for Dacia Duster on the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

Dacia's new, rugged, spacious and particularly affordable off-road vehicle claimed victory on last weekend's Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in the hands of Isabelle Charles, who is also responsible for designing the model's colours and materials.

Nathalie Descout, who is also in charge of Dacia Duster's global advertizing campaign, steered her similar car to fourth place on the Moroccan event.

With just days to go before its launch, Dacia Duster profited from the competition through the Atlas foothills and over the sand dunes of southern Morocco to provide timely evidence of its off-road ability, strength and reliability.

The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, taking place in Morocco, is a unique competition which fits perfectly with the spirit that prevails at Dacia, a brand that has a habit of challenging established automotive thinking. The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles:

- is the only all-lady motor sport event,
- takes an original approach to motor sport: rather than outright speed, the emphasis is on covering the shortest distance possible,
- allows only basic tools: the Gazelles can use just two items of equipment, a compass and two maps (1:100,000 and 1:250,000 scale),
- is based on strategy and thinking on one's feet: the Gazelles take the lie of the land into account to choose their own itinerary between the mandatory checkpoints.

Duster, the new Dacia off-roader, was on top of the podium this weekend in Morocco where it claimed top honours in the Crossover class on the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. Isabelle Charles and her co-driver Dounia Bennani (car N°315) topped the final order with a total penalty of just 923.04km. "Dacia Duster is a vehicle that is capable of going just about anywhere," said Isabelle. "I drove it over stony trails, hilly terrain and sand dunes, and I was really impressed. […] It was very nice, too, to see the public showed a keen interest in our Duster and who were clearly up to speed with its specification, even though it hasn't gone on sale officially yet!"

Meanwhile, Nathalie Descout and her co-driver Dorothée Topin steered their Dacia Duster (car N°316) to fourth place on the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, incurring total penalties of 2,203.9km on what was their very first rally.


By July 2010, Dacia Duster will be available for sale across Europe, Turkey and the Maghreb region. The new model delivers an unbeatable equipment/specification/interior space package for its price, with tax-paid prices starting at less than €12,000. Order books opened at the beginning of March in the majority of its markets.

In France, Dacia Duster will be available in the commercial network starting from April 8. Tax-paid prices start from 11,900 Euros.


Car N° 315

Driver: Isabelle CHARLES
Born November 28, 1962. Isabelle Charles studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris before moving on to the Transport Design department of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art (ENSAAMA). In 1989, she joined Renault's Design Department at the Technocentre, in Guyancourt, near Paris, where she has been responsible for a number of colours and materials design projects (Formula 1 car, etc.). Her work has more recently involved the Dacia range, including Duster.
Isabelle Charles is a big rally fan, and this will be her fifth attempt at the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. In 2007, she finished 10th (4x4 class).
Co-driver: Dounia BENNANI
Born May 5, 1969. After obtaining a degree at Casablanca's Ecole d’Optiques, Dounia Bennani now works as an optician in Meknes, Morocco. She, too, is a big rally fan and will this year be starting the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles for the sixth time. In 2007, Dounia Bennani came fifth (4x4 class).

Car N°316

Driver: Nathalie DESCOUT
Born January 22, 1982, in Versailles (France). Nathalie Descout obtained a degree in marketing and communications at Paris IX Dauphine University. From 2004 to 2007, she worked as customer intelligence manager in Renault Spain's marketing department. In 2007, she moved to Renault's head office in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, where she now works for the worldwide marketing department as worldwide advertising project manager.
Co-driver: Dorothée TOPIN
Born April 26, 1981, in Maisons-Laffitte (France). Dorothée Topin obtained a degree in marketing at Paris IX Dauphine University. In 2006, she joined the JIPO group (now Novedia) where she works as a marketing consultant, specializing in telecommunications.