Dakar: Kwikpower Mercedes stage seven report

Service Unimog helps Lohr and Ruf to make it to the finish of the 521-kilometre seventh stage Atâr/Mauretanien - "Without our service Unimog, we'd still be sitting in the desert," revealed Ellen Lohr in the morning, following her arrival in the...

Service Unimog helps Lohr and Ruf to make it to the finish of the 521-kilometre seventh stage

Atâr/Mauretanien - "Without our service Unimog, we'd still be sitting in the desert," revealed Ellen Lohr in the morning, following her arrival in the bivouac. "But we're here and that's all that counts. And at noon, we will be ready to start into the next stage." During yesterday's marathon stage (including a 499-kilometre special stage) across the 'sea of dunes' of the Mauritanian Sahara, a broken wheel suspension stopped Ellen Lohr and Detlef Ruf in the M-Class rallye prototype having completed just a third of the special stage's total mileage. The cause: a ripped off uniball.

The Mercedes-Benz service fleet's racing Unimog, that must start into every special stage clearly later than the rally car, reached the scene of the incident two and a half hours later. In the middle of the sandy and dusty nowhere, the Unimog's three-man-crew changed the wheel suspension - and Ellen Lohr and Detlef Ruf could continue. "It feels great to have a professional service you can rely on in the case of a problem," said Lohr. "And there were a lot of competitors that experienced problems during the course of this stage." The Unimog contests the truck competition as so-called 'Fast Service', with all its crew members being rally-experienced mechanics.

"Prior to this stage we were already aware that it would prove to be one of the most difficult ones," revealed Lohr. "Altogether, the incident cost us about four hours. Hence, we had to complete the major part of the stage in the middle of the night. In these conditions, it's extremely difficult to cross such a dune section." Many competitors got stuck in the deep, powdery sands, and the German pairing was no exception. But the Unimog pulled them out every time they got stuck. Lohr: "Our service stayed with us for the rest of the stage and together we struggled through."

Early in the morning, at the end of a night of driving, the two Mercedes-Benz Kwikpower vehicles reached the bivouac in Atâr. There, the racing team ORC's service crew subjected the M-Class rally prototype and the Unimog to an extensive service to prepare them for the next major challenge: During the eighth stage, from Atâr to Nouakchott, the competitors will have to cope with a 508-kilometre special stage. "We will keep on giving our very best to make it to the finish," added Lohr. "And tomorrow, in Nouakchott, we will fortunately have a day of rest - something we will all need, then."

-kwikpower-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Ellen Lohr , Detlef Ruf