Ellen Lohr to contest the Dakar desert rally

* The competitive field for the 2006 Dakar Rally will be enriched by a prominent challenger: on 31st December, Ellen Lohr will start the classic desert rally behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

* Mercedes-Benz supports the participation of Ellen Lohr and the independent Team TEAM ORC Sport-Service via its business divisions 'Global Services and Parts', 'Transporter', 'Passenger Car' and 'Truck'.

* AMG-Mercedes supports the project with know-how.

* The Navigon GmbH, Europe's market leader when it comes to mobile navigation systems and a Lohr partner since 2004, will once again be involved.

For DaimlerChrysler, this involvement offers the opportunity of demonstrating the Mercedes-Benz brand's performance level in all product areas. Team ORC-Lohr will be provided by Mercedes-Benz with the following service cars: the brand's premium truck, the Mercedes-Benz Actros 6x6, and its smaller but efficient sister, the multi-purpose Unimog. The media representatives can ride in the new Mercedes-Benz high-capacity vehicle, the Viano 4MATIC, while the new M-Class with its sophisticated technology represents the ideal base for both the rally car and the support vehicles.

Ellen Lohr: "A professional environment for marathon rallies"

"I'm particularly proud of the fact that Mercedes-Benz has opted for supporting us on this level," says Ellen Lohr, "and I'm just as proud on the successful creation of an absolutely professional environment, as that's exactly what you need when planning to contest the Dakar Rally. Quite obviously, Team ORC, as a reliable partner, is a vital part of this project." TEAM ORC Sport-Service, based in Ostfildern near Stuttgart, is responsible for the design and the construction of the rally spec of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the preparation and maintenance of the cars for and during the events respectively.

Lohr: Successful both behind the wheel and the microphone

Ellen Lohr was the most successful female touring car driver of the 1990s, with her win in the Hockenheim round of the 1992 DTM (German Touring Car Championship) season representing the highlight of her six-year DTM career. So far, this triumph has remained the only win for a woman in this top class series. It was a win that was secured with a Mercedes 190 E and against extremely competitive opponents such as former Formula One World Champion Keke Rosberg and touring car legend Klaus Ludwig. Afterwards, she secured further podium finishes at Berlin's AVUS, Nuremberg's Norisring and Diepholz.

Ellen Lohr started her motor racing career at the age of 14 via the traditional way: karting. She was born in Monchengladbach, and when she was signed for the Mercedes-Benz works squad in 1991, she had already contested several successful seasons in the Formula Ford 1600 and the German Formula 3 Championship (highlight: runner-up in Monaco). In 1997 and 1998, the plucky female racer entered the European Truck Championship for Mercedes-Benz. Later on, she contested Porsche Supercup rounds and the Nurburgring 24-hour race held on the circuit's famous Nordschleife. But Lohr wasn't only successful behind the wheel. For five years, she worked for the German TV station ARD as a DTM expert and commentator.

Runner-up in the Baja Germany, top times in Morocco

In 2004, Ellen Lohr switched to off-road racing. "Following my many successful road racing years I was keen on a new challenge," reveals Lohr. It was a challenge she coped with in fine style. In her only third appearance, she finished runner-up in the Baja Germany. Due to a technical failure of her racing car, her maiden Dakar Rally appearance came to an early end, but during the Morocco Rally, held in May, she caused a stir by setting top times. "For me, racing on dirt tracks was massive fun from the very first kilometre," reveals Lohr. "And from now on, I'm going to accelerate even more."