Kwikpower Mercedes-Benz goes Africa -- the first two European stages successfully completed Odeleite/Portugal -- Having completed the first two special stages in Portugal, adding up to a total mileage of about 200 kilometres, the team could make...
Kwikpower Mercedes-Benz goes Africa -- the first two European stages successfully completed
Odeleite/Portugal -- Having completed the first two special stages in Portugal, adding up to a total mileage of about 200 kilometres, the team could make the following conclusion prior to the transit to Africa: Kwikpower Mercedes-Benz made a successful start into the 2006 Dakar. For the third stage -- across Morocco -- the rally prototype and the racing Unimog on the one hand and the Mercedes-Benz service fleet on the other will part company for one night and one day. While the competitors will be ferried to Africa from Malaga, the service cars will be shipped in Gibraltar. Following a night on a ferry, Ellen Lohr and Detlef Ruf as well as the three-person Unimog crew are going to contest the first African stage, on 2 nd January -- a stage with a 314km special stage and a total mileage of 672 kilometres from Nador to Er Rachiada. Only in the evening, at the end of the stage, the entire team will be reunited in the bivouac.
Ellen Lohr: "I'm truly delighted as yesterday's and today's stages went absolutely as scheduled: we made it without having to push at any time. Hence, we have achieved what we wanted to. It's our major task to make it to Dakar with all our five cars. That's the challenge we have to cope with. There was some work for our mechanics today as we won't meet again before tomorrow night. During the course of the first two stages, it was truly demanding for me to drive directly up to the crowds. Thousands of spectators were standing very close to or even on the track. You're driving up to a wall of people and you think: 'Hopefully they will jump aside, in time. I think it will take me some time to accustom to this situation. But now we are all looking forward to Africa."
Tough Upbeat for the Racing Unimog -- Track blockades cost a lot of time
The trio aboard the racing Unimog experienced two extremely demanding first days. Because of the high starting number, the track was virtually ploughed up by all the motorbikes, rally cars and 50 trucks when the Unimog hit the road. Later, the entrants were mired. The result: the first stage was partly blocked and the second even had to be completely nullified. The driver of the Unimog, Palatinate Udo Kuhn, is the Kwikpower Mercedes-Benz Team member who's got more Dakar experience under his belt than anybody else in the team. This year's edition of the event represents already his ninth Dakar!
Udo Kuhn: "We got through quite well, as the Unimog is the best vehicle available to drive in such an impassable terrain. But due to the track blockades, our rally prototype opened a gap on us. Yet, this doesn't trouble us too much. The rally has only just begun and from the fourth stage, cars and trucks will start in a mixed field. We've got just one goal: to be there as fast as possible should Ellen Lohr in her rally car experience a problem, during a special stage."