Official Website - Raid 4L Trophy


The Raid 4L Trophy?

First, some facts and figures. For the 21th Raid 4L Trophy last year, 2,600 participants from over 1,460 colleges, divided into 1,300 teams, started from the Departure Village of Biarritz, aboard their legendary Renault 4L. Their goal is to reach their final destination, Marrakesh, after completing a 10-day journey of almost 6,000 km on French and Spanish roads and Moroccan tracks. This unique combination makes the Raid 4L Trophy the biggest rally for students in Europe.

But enough with the statistics. Most of all, the Raid 4L Trophy is a fulfilling and solidary sports adventure for students between 18 and 28 years old. Unlike most rallies, the competition is based on orientation, not speed. The challenge lies in making it to the finish line and in order to get there, participants will discover the true meaning of helping each other: to avoid treacherous wadis and getting stuck in the sand; or to help other contestants who suffered mechancical problems. In helping each other, the competitors will find satisfaction of their achievement and be proud of having done their best for themselves and their fellow contestants.

In addition to their desire for vast open spaces, the teams transport classroom materials in their 4Ls to donate to deprived children in Morocco. To the 4L Trophy, solidarity towards local inhabitants is not an empty phrase; as a matter of fact it is deeply ingrained in the rally’s DNA. Each year this becomes evident during the ceremony in which they hand over the donations in partnership with Enfants du désert . Many participants claim that moment is one of the highlights of the adventure.

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The spirit of the 4L

saut 4L

They are a group of perhaps ten people, sitting around a campfire in the middle of the desert beneath a dark sky filled with stars.  Guitar chords accompany the dance of the flames.  The atmosphere builds confidence, and the competitors tell stories of their cars, the rally, the beauty of the landscapes they’ve crossed, and a little bit more as well.  After a week spent rallying, they have so many memories already.  Tonight will be their last night in the open air.  It’s the famous “marathon stage” – a long, two-day trip, travelling independently for the ultimate challenge of their adventure.  Soon, it will be time to go home and get back to the reality of their “other lives.”  However, the “spirit of the 4L” will leave its mark on that reality for a long time afterwards.  Competitors often struggle to express in words the magic of the 4L Trophy™ Rally. Instead, they prefer to extend an invitation: “You have to experience it for yourself.”


A humanitarian and sporting adventure, in complete safety

Without continuous respect for the safety and security rules that the course director, Jean-Jacques Rey, reiterates at every briefing, there can be no pleasure in the 4L Trophy™ Rally.  These rules are vital to ensure that all competitors can reach the next bivouac with the greatest amount of freedom.  During the rally, there is therefore never any question of speed: instead, it is all about orientation and navigation.  The “trophyist’s” greatest weapons: a map, a compass and an effective reading of the road book provided to each crew at the Departure Village.  The best crews will be those who follow the instructions given in the famous road book most closely and complete the stage with the fewest kilometres on the clock.

In addition to the navigational traps come those of the Moroccan desert.  When crossing the sandy terrain, competitors will need to rely on their fellow competitors to free them if they get stuck in the sand.  When this happens, it’s always a case of “all hands on deck” to help a crew that’s “tanked” on the dunes, and an opportunity for everyone to learn to push their boundaries, and to keep going in the face of any obstacle.  As a result, competitors will take home a new outlook on life, the importance of which cannot be overstated, and which few other experiences can provide.


A charitable, eco-friendly event

The 4L Trophy™ Charitable Rally firstly provides support to the French population via the “4L Solidarity” Charitable Association.  Since the 2011 rally, each team has been requested to bring 10 kg of non-perishable staple goods to the Departure Village, after which the goods that are collected are handed over to the Red Cross and to food banks.  The charitable aspect of the rally continues with the delivery of school supplies to Moroccan children, in partnership with the “Enfants du désert” (“Children of the Desert”) charity.  Fundraising activities are also organised, which enabled classrooms and schools to be built in the desert following the 2012 and 2013 rallies.

Respect for the environment is also at the heart of the rally’s concerns.  Many activities are therefore undertaken each year in order to reduce the rally’s environmental impact, and the “Clean Desert” operation ensures that the desert is meticulously cleaned up each time the bivouac moves on.

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Un long chemin à parcourir - Raid 4L Trophy

4L Trophy™ Rally – 21 years old already!

In winter 1996, Jean-Jacques Rey and a few friends from the Paris-Dakar Rally were in Mali to map out new routes towards the Senegalese capital.

It is a well-known fact that, when friends who share a single passion meet up, they will start to put the world to rights, especially when they share a passion for adventure and for Africa.

At a bivouac in the Sahel, during the inevitable aperitif around the campfire that Jean-Jacques casually stated that “I’d have loved to have been able to do this when I was 20: exploring the desert and experiencing such an amazing adventure.”  But at the time, none of us could have afforded to buy a 4×4.

Everything seemed to be out of reach and nothing more than a dream.  After dinner, the discussion at the campsite continued.

Some people suggested that “you could do it with normal cars.”  “Why not?” exclaimed Jean-Jacques.  “You’d just have to find a cheap car that was reliable enough to travel over the desert trails.”  The result: the simple idea had begun to take its course.

Upon his return to France, Jean-Jacques, as part of his working life, organising trips by 4×4 and off-road motorbikes, decided to return to Morocco in a Renault 4L to examine the feasibility of an adventure endurance rally in the country.

The route was designed and… it worked!  Mamy, the Renault 4L, could go everywhere, even over sandy terrain!  The 4L Trophy™ Rally was born! Désertours set up communications with students to try to pass on the message – which was easier said than done.

In late February 1998, three crews showed up at the start, unsure of whether they would get any further.

Go or no-go?  The question was asked, but Jean-Jacques decided to set off regardless, with the support of his 4×4, a logistics technician, a mechanic, a doctor and of course, himself.

Désertours’ staff did wonder whether the boss had lost his marbles, and although the answer appears obvious today, it took several years and the help of students at ESC Rennes Business School, from 2001 onwards, for the adventure to reach its current scale.

In the 4th Rally, in 2001, 50 cars set off, growing to 460 by 2005 and 1,000 cars in 2008 and today, the 4L Trophy™ Rally has earned its reputation for excellence.

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