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sam1 Spotlight on . . .

[ Team  Angela ]

In 1988, an all female motorcycle racing team “Team Angela” raced a turbocharged Suzuki Cervo in the “7th Rallye des Pharaons”.

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The “Rallye des Pharaons” which is French for “Pharaoh’s Rally”, is an FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) Cross-Country Rally World Championship event that takes place in Egypt.  Cairo is both the starting and finishing point at the foot of the pyramids of Giza, a distance of around 5,400 kilometres (3,355 miles).  It is similar in format to the Dakar Rally in that it takes place in desert conditions and cars, trucks, and motorcycles are all elig‘Suzuki takes on the Desert’

The 1988 edition of the Rallye des Pharaons, featured an unusual entry alongside the rally superstars, motorbike daredevils and super trucks sponsored by the likes of Camel, Marlborough and Mitsubishi.  They were “TEAM  ANGELA”, four Japanese women piloting two of the latest 550cc turbocharged Suzuki Cervo kei-cars.

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Tired of being told ‘you can’t do it because you are women’, team leader Angela Uchida (内田アンジェラ), proprietress of a high class Ginza ryōtei restaurant, and her three friends, all motorbike shop workers, decided to prove their doubters wrong by entering the 5,400 km (3,355 ml) race through the Egyptian desert.

(* A ryōtei: 料亭 is a type of luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant.)

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The first car, entry No.232, was piloted by Angela with navigator Hiroko ‘Kuro-chan‘ Kurokawa (黒川 “くろちゃん” ひろ子), the second car, No.233, was driven by Takae ‘Taka‘ Yamamoto (山本 “タカ” 高板) with navigator Kazuko Ogoke (尾後家 和子).

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The race was won by Finn Ari Vatanen and Swede Bruno Berglund, with Belgian Gaston Rahier winning the bike section on a Suzuki.  Angela missed the time cut on the special stage and was eliminated, but Taka and Ogoke made it to the finish.  Their exploits are recorded in the Japanese documentary: エイジプトの風になれ ‘Egypt no Kaze ni Nare’  ”Become the Egyptian Wind“.  It is available, in four segments, here on YouTube.  It is in Japanese only, and doesn’t focus on the cars so much, but it’s a fun watch.

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