Ellen Lohr: "Defend your position, keep the car alive" Tan Tan/Morocco. "Today, it was all about making it to the finish, keeping the car alive and defending your position," said Ellen Lohr in the afternoon, following the fifth stage...
Ellen Lohr: "Defend your position, keep the car alive"
Tan Tan/Morocco. "Today, it was all about making it to the finish, keeping the car alive and defending your position," said Ellen Lohr in the afternoon, following the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally. "The special stage was very rocky and rough, an extreme challenge for the material. But apart from a puncture in the closing stages, we experienced no incidents whatsoever." In spite of her careful attitude, the German who had made a major leap in the overall standings (from 67th to 39th place), yesterday, also gained several positions in the fifth stage. Ellen Lohr and her co-pilot, Detlef Ruf, finished 31st in the 350-kilometre special stage and moved up to 33rd position in the overall standings, with the Unimog crew also having made a leap in the truck competition, yesterday.
The fifth stage, 819 kilometres from the Moroccan desert town Quarzazate to Tan Tan, was one of the three longest of the 2006 Dakar. Following a cold night in the bivouac, Ellen Lohr and Detlef Ruf hit the road at 06.00hrs and reached the Tan Tan service station late in the afternoon. Still, the rally baggage will start the next stage even far earlier: at 03.19hrs, in the middle of the night from 04th to 05th January, the rally cars will leave for the sixth stage, beginning with a 336-kilometre liaison from Morocco to Mauritania. There, the competitors will have to cope with a 444-kilometre special stage, beginning at 09.30hrs and leading deep into the Sahara Desert. Other than usual, the Mercedes-Benz service fleet and all thee other service cars will arrive at the bivouac -- located in Mauritania 's Zouerat -- later than the competitors.
Ellen Lohr: "Tomorrow will be a crucial day, a day when you can win a lot or lose everything. It will also begin on rocky terrain, but then the rocks are followed by sand and an approximately 60-kilometre dune track. Two years ago, many competitors got lost in this section or got stuck in the sand. At the end of the stage, we will have to cope with Camel Grass: overgrown mounds that look harmless but can be that hard that you can damage your car when hitting them. To cut a long story short: this special stage has got it all. I hope that you will have the chance of overtaking without being forced to spend a lot of time in the dust clouds of the cars driving in front of you. By all means, tomorrow will be an extremely thrilling day -- and an exhausting one: after all, you have to get up in the middle of the night to cover some 300 kilometres to reach the start of the special stage. But Detlef and I feel as fit as a fiddle."