Ladies, Start Your En­gines!

Clock in for this spring­time ren­dezvous as the Ral­lye des Princesses Richard Mille revs through the French coun­try­side in a glam­orous dis­play of women, cars and watches, writes

Malaysia Tatler - - AROUND ASIA - El­iz­a­beth Soong

The 18th Ral­lye des Princesses Richard Mille ren­dezvous in early spring calls for a glam­orous cel­e­bra­tion

The sight of gaily coloured clas­sic sports and road cars flank­ing the Place Vendôme is one that in­cites fond mem­o­ries. This was the start­ing point of the 18th Ral­lye des Princesses Richard Mille, a women-only rally that will take five days, five legs, 20 reg­u­lar­ity tests, and 1,600 kilo­me­tres down south from Paris to Saint-tropez. The women’s sport­ing at­ti­tude com­bined with ex­cite­ment, con­vivi­al­ity and glam­our per­vades the scene— ev­i­dence that mod­ern women and dream cars go hand-in-hand. In the grand tra­di­tion of Euro­pean road rac­ing, 90 vin­tage ma­chines crewed by fe­male driver and co-driver pairs will make their way through hand­picked routes cov­er­ing the pic­turesque French coun­try­side, ma­jes­tic Alpine passes, and the Mediter­ranean coast. This is a race based not on speed, but on strict time­keep­ing and mileage track­ing, putting all on an equal foot­ing, whether they’re driv­ing a Porsche 911 or a Re­nault 4CV.

Par­tic­i­pants are not al­lowed to use the GPS, in­stead they have to con­sult a road­book which con­tains di­rec­tions on the route they must fol­low, and the as­signed speed they must ad­here to. This is es­pe­cially cru­cial as they com­plete ded­i­cated reg­u­lar­ity tests, as a mere sec­ond too fast or too slow re­sults in penal­ties; all while fac­tor­ing in ex­tra dif­fi­cul­ties along the way, such as sheep block­ing the road, a traf­fic light or a lo­cal farmer’s plod­ding trac­tor. Therein lies the chal­lenge of the rally, as each team is judged on their abil­ity to main­tain the set av­er­age speed (be­tween 40 and 50km/h) and their abil­ity to nav­i­gate with skill and ac­cu­racy, all at the right pace. The days are long, each leg ranges be­tween 261 and 372km, with the long­est be­ing the 430km leg be­tween Vichy and L’alpe D’huez, climb­ing in­clined roads, go­ing as high as 1,860 me­tres. Even so, the rally is one of the best ways to en­joy the beauty of France, as well as the camaraderie and kin­ship that re­sult in the women bond­ing over de­li­cious lo­cal food and shar­ing sto­ries of their mishaps and ad­ven­tures along the way. Ac­cord­ing to the rally’s founder, Vi­viane Zaniroli, “The ca­pac­ity of th­ese women to ex­press their dar­ing and fighting spirit along­side joie de vivre com­mands both re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion. My goal is pre­cisely to show­case all their many qual­i­ties. At the end of the race, no par­tic­i­pant is ex­actly as she was, nor en­tirely dif­fer­ent, but all are princesses for­ever!” Cap­ping off a week of chal­leng­ing and densely packed stages is an awards cer­e­mony at Saint-tropez, held on the Moorea beach in Ra­mat­uelle. And this year, once again, the Ral­lye des Princesses Richard Mille lends its sup­port to Parti des En­fants, a col­lec­tive ded­i­cated to chil­dren suf­fer­ing from ill­nesses. If there’s any­thing that proves it, th­ese races only serve to am­plify that the fairer sex are also as pas­sion­ate about au­to­mo­biles and com­pli­cated, me­chan­i­cal time­pieces as men. Richard Mille has been a part­ner of the Ral­lye des Princesses for three years now, and for the 2017 rally, val­ued friends of the brand who par­tic­i­pated in the race each wore a watch from the Richard Mille’s ladies’ col­lec­tion and drove in six Porsches. The brand has long con­sid­ered the affin­ity be­tween women and time, and for that mat­ter launched a ladies’ model very early on in the brand’s devel­op­ment. It con­tin­ues com­ing out with new women’s col­lec­tions, run­ning the gamut from glit­ter­ing jew­ellery tour­bil­lons to more tech­ni­cal au­to­matic watches with date,

func­tion in­di­ca­tors and spe­cific straps, as well as cases that ap­pear in ce­ramic, ti­ta­nium, and the ul­tra fu­tur­is­tic Car­bon TPT. “I en­joy the fact that our ladies’ watches are very tech­ni­cal in spirit on the in­side, re­gard­less of how many di­a­monds, or the beau­ti­ful lines they may pos­sess,” says Richard Mille. “In this way the ladies’ watches are akin to clas­sic cars, be­cause they have the el­e­gant sexy lines of beau­ti­ful body­work, then un­der­neath the hood it is all about tech­nique, power and pre­ci­sion. And that is not only our idea of the per­fect ladies’ watch, it is also our idea of the per­fect lady.” Rated as Europe’s num­ber 1 women’s mo­tor sport event, the Ral­lye des Princesses Richard Mille has been a re­sound­ing suc­cess for the past 18 years as women from all over the world come to­gether to par­take in this glam­orous spring­time af­fair and the val­ues that this event brings to­gether: sports­man­ship, friend­ship, per­se­ver­ance, tol­er­ance, and emo­tions. It’s the ad­ven­ture of a life­time for free-spir­ited women who love both so­phis­ti­cated lux­ury and friendly com­pe­ti­tion, amid the grandeur of el­e­gant ho­tel stays and lovely lun­cheons along the jour­ney. Can we sign up for the next one now?

FLAG OFF The rally is off to a great start, as the route takes the driv­ing crews on a pic­turesque jour­ney across French coun­try­sides

CRUIS­ING ALONG

The rally is in five stages, and is in­clu­sive of ho­tel stays at the end of each leg, for the crew to get a good night’s rest and plan the next day’s jour­ney

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