Wendy Fisher, Emily Miller return to Moroccan rally

“I would call it an adventure race on wheels”

It’s all part of a three-year plan to the top. Wendy Fisher and Emily Miller are making their second trip to Morocco March 13-27 to compete in the 20th Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.

 

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The Rallye is a nine-day off-road race for women’s teams only. Miller and Fisher competed in the Rallye for the first time last year as the only U.S. team to enter and are returning this year, again as the only U.S. team.
Miller is no stranger to off-road racing, having been a part of the legendary Rod Hall Racing team competing in several world-class events, including the Baja 1000.
Miller is in the midst of a phenomenal season of racing this year. She won the Las Vegas to Reno 1,000-mile race driving solo in the stock mini-class. Then in November, she was on the winning team in the stock mini-class in the infamous Baja 1000.
Now, she and Fisher are headed to the Rallye with one year of experience in the event under their belts.
“It’s a big advantage to go back a second year,” says Miller. “It takes a lot of experience.”
With Miller at the wheel and Fisher navigating using maps from the 1950s written in French and Arabic, the two finished in 21st place last year out of 120 teams, and fifth place out of the 85 “rookie” teams, despite running the race in a stock Isuzu Dmax truck.
On the two major sand-dune driving days, Fisher would jump out of the truck and navigate Miller through the labyrinth using signals.
“It was like running a GS course trying to find the best line,” says Fisher who was a member of the U.S. ski team at one point in her ski career. “I would run ahead and we developed hand signals to tell her where to go.”
Each of the nine days the women spent anywhere from 12 to 14 hours in the truck, driving wherever possible to reach checkpoints along the way.
“You’re up at 4 a.m., racing by 6 a.m. and done by sunset,” says Fisher. “You’re racing against the sun dropping.”
“I would call it an adventure race on wheels,” says Miller.
Other days require an entirely different skill set of driving from the sand days.
“We see every type of terrain you can imagine,” says Miller. “It’s pretty unique terrain. There’s a part of me that wishes it was just about going fast.”
Furthermore, getting in and out of tight situations, including mechanicals, is up to the team.
“If you have any mechanical problems, you have to fix them,” says Fisher.
This year, Fisher and Miller will drive a Hummer H3 with three more inches of ground clearance as well as other features that should allow them to push the limits a little further and faster.
“We’ve got a real good truck,” says Miller. “We can climb and descend a lot steeper and gnarlier terrain. You want to take the straightest line you can between checkpoints.”
“This year we’re going to be able to push our limits a little further,” adds Fisher.
While they both admit they’re going for the win, it’s a three-year plan for the win and year two is about more learning.
“There’s a big learning curve,” says Miller. “The second-year goal is to train for the win. We’ll drive for the win but a top-10 finish is more realistic.”
The race officially starts on March 17. Track their progress on either the team’s website at teammillerfisher.com, or on the race website at www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com.

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