All the Mercedes-Benz vehicles make it to Dakar

Dakar/Senegal -- The entire Kwikpower Mercedes-Benz fleet made it to Senegal 's capital, Dakar -- the finish of the 2006 Dakar Rally. During the course of 15 days, the five Mercedes-Benz vehicles -- the M-Class rally prototype and its service fleet, the Race Unimog, the Actros 6x6, the Viano 4Matic and the Mercedes-Benz M-Class -- covered a total distance of 9,000 kilometres, from the start in Lisbon to the finish:. "Quite obviously, we are slightly disappointed to have been forced into early retirement with just three more days to go," reveals Ellen Lohr. "But at the same time, we are proud that we were able to now enter Dakar with all our five Mercedes-Benz vehicles."

During the twelfth of the event's fifteen stages, the rally prototype had to retire due to a broken wheel bearing. At the same time, the service Unimog also was excluded. The best of all salvage vehicles available fell victim to its special capabilities. It exceeded the stage's time limit when it first helped salvaging a broken down truck and battled its way to Ellen Lohr, afterwards.

Ellen Lohr: "Altogether, we can draw a very positive conclusion: we covered nearly three quarters of the total distance, in our debut appearance, a debut that took place in an extremely gruelling edition of the desert rally. Only 69 of the 187 cars that entered the event made it to the finish, thus proving that the 2006 Dakar was a truly demanding one. Hence, it has been a great achievement for a young team like us to make it that far. At the same time, we learned a lot on every single day: regarding the rally car, the track knowledge and our service fleet. For me, every single day also turned out to be vital. I've got 20 years of motor racing experience under my belt, but I'm still at the very beginning of my rallying career. The cooperation with my co-driver, Detlef Ruf, worked just great right from the start. Altogether, the crews of all the vehicles made a great job. And it was once again confirmed that the service's meaning in the most demanding rally of the world adds up to 50 percent at least, on the way to success. Without the race Unimog, we had been forced into retirement already in stage 6. I'm really sorry for the race Unimog crew that didn't get its deserved reward -- to be scored -- because of having helped others to continue. The Actros, our main workshop at the major service stations, completed the partly gruelling route across rocks, squashy sand and eroded river beds just as reliably as the Viano 4Matic and the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The entire Mercedes-Benz fleet successfully proved its off-road capabilities in the most difficult conditions."