The 18th Princesses Rally saw Richard Mille enter its 3rd year in a row as the sponsor of an all-female event. 90 teams and 12 nationalities drove from Paris to Saint Tropez in classic and modern cars at an average speed of 40km/hr in five days. Join us on an exhilarating adventure.
By Eleonor Picciotto
photos Jules Langeard
We hit the road in an air-conditioned bus during a heatwave to pick up our racing cars that are dolled up all year outside Paris. The to-the-minute schedule involved a briefing to learn how our cars worked and especially how to use a roadbook and tripy. Yep, you can’t just go with the flow when you’re doing a rally in a car from 1964 for several days, especially not when it’s your first time.
Driving into Paris in our canary yellow Porsche 356 earned us a good few smiles, thumbs up, photos and kind words from the Parisians surprisingly enough. They can do it…said the ex-pat Parisian that I am. I must admit that all the vintage and colourful cars parked on Place Vendôme caused quite a stir bringing together family, friends and anyone in the area.
The pressure peaked when the Rally kicked off on Sunday
morning. We were the second team to hit the road. We had to drive onto the podium aiming straight for the two metallic beams of the same width as the tyres without going even a centimetre over in case of being the first to topple the car over, in the morning and in front of the photographers’ cameras. All good. It was already 30 degrees at 9am, I think it was 45 inside our car with our pulses racing at 300 beats per minute.
Once we were out of Paris with the gearbox and clutch well in hand, we had to get to grips with our roadbook.
“You have 13 minutes to cover 4.37km then you have to turn right at the red arrow,” said Elodie, my co-driver and colleague. “OK so what speed should I be at?” I naturally answered. “Since we’re 17 seconds behind and we need to catch up, shall we do the rule of three?” We sceptically started calculating. Epic fail. “I have no idea. Just drive and we’ll see.” Roaring with laughter, let’s be honest, this strategy suited me perfectly.
Snaking through the French roads once in a lifetime should be, I personally think, made compulsory in some way or another. What a beautiful country! We drove slowly through
endless fields, went through deserted villages or thanked the few locals showing us the way to go as if it were their mission. We passed by hares, horses, butterflies and cows. We even spotted Bambi. Every pointed church we saw at every single little village reminded us of the Bible’s words about sharing. Morality, everyone takes their turn, everyone drives.
You’d be wrong to think that being a co-driver means time goes slower. We were fortunate enough to be armed with different models from the Richard Mille women’s collection so it was the perfect time to take in the details and finishes, maybe even take some photos. Especially when you have a diamond and rose gold RM016 or brown ceramic RM07-01 on a diamond-covered chain strap. Careful, keep your eyes on the road. We can safely say though that the TPT carbon RM07-01 with a titanium body is a joy to wear as it’s so light, especially when you’re driving during a heatwave.
We laughed and drove a lot. We swore and shouted a bit. Time raced by. How sad we were to say goodbye to our beloved motor but how happy we are to have taken part.