- Daimler employees Astrid Ebermann and Sabrina Trillmann take first place in the women rallye’s Crossover category
- New Sprinter 316 CDI 4×4 with standard equipment proves to be a reliable rally vehicle
- 2,500 km without a single breakdown: The team of mechanics had almost nothing to do
In a triumph for the new all-wheel-drive Sprinter, Daimler employees Astrid Ebermann and Sabrina Trillmann came in first in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in Morocco at the end of March. The winning duo’s Crossover category vehicle is a new Sprinter 316 CDI 4×4. Only women take part in this motorsports event, which has been held annually since 1990. More than 160 teams from around 30 countries took part in the rally this year.
Even though every Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles begins at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the actual rallye starts in the Moroccan desert, on the far side of the Atlas Mountains. The drivers have to travel about 2,500 km, most of which is over unpaved surfaces, through terrain in which all-wheel-drive vans such as the new Sprinter 4×4 can fully demonstrate their offroad capabilities.
The rallye is divided into seven stages, including two “marathon” stretches lasting two days each and including nights spent out in the desert. Because the drivers don’t have navigation systems, they have to orient themselves with maps and compasses. This year, Astrid Ebermann and Sabrina Trillmann took the lead during the second of the seven stages and stayed there until they reached their destination. In keeping with tradition, the finish line was in the city of Essaouira in the far west of the North African country.
The rally’s patron is King Mohammed VI of Morocco. A special feature of the race is that the winners in the three different categories don’t receive any prize money. Instead, all of the proceeds, including the participation fees and sponsorship grants, are donated for charitable purposes so that they benefit the people of Morocco. This year, the rallye’s “baggage train” was once again accompanied by a medical convoy whose staff conducted more than 7,000 free medical examinations.
The team from Mercedes-Benz Vans won the race in a series-produced vehicle that was only slightly modified for the rally. For this purpose, the Sprinter was fitted with special wheels and sand tires as well as with a rollover cage, underride protection, and bucket seats. The drivers were accompanied by a team of mechanics, who didn’t have to provide any assistance, however, except for making a few minor repairs and changing a tire. It’s proof of the women drivers’ skill and of the new Sprinter’s quality.
This year, Mercedes-Benz Vans took part in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles for the sixth time and achieved its third victory. The first win was achieved in 2009 by a team driving a Viano 4Matic. The second triumph occurred in 2011, when the van driven by the winners was a Vito 4×4.
The new Sprinter 4×4 has selectable all-wheel drive and is available as a crewbus, a panel van, and a flatbed truck. It is the only large van of up to five tons GVW to feature an all-wheel-drive system ex works. It is also the only all-wheel-drive van to come with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) ex works. Moreover, the vehicle is equipped with the Electronic Traction System (4ETS). This combination ensures great traction on almost any surface. In order to increase traction even further in difficult terrain, the all-wheel-drive van can also be delivered with an optional second reduction gearbox.
The new Sprinter 4×4 only consumes 0.8 l more fuel per 100 km than the rear-wheel-drive model. For example, the Sprinter 316 BlueTec 4×4 consumes only 7.7 l per 100 km (NEDC, combined). The new Sprinter 4×4 also has a new range of engines, all of which meet the future Euro VI emission standard. These drive systems include two four-cylinder diesel engines with 2.15 l of displacement and an output of either 95 kW or 120 kW. The third engine variant to be offered is a six-cylinder diesel engine (3.0 l displacement) with an output of 140 kW.