by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Into the wilderness: female employees of Daimler AG set off in the Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter on the 2012 "Aïcha des Gazelles" rally

Marie Le Neillon-Quesseveur, Susanne Ehmer, Christina Ines Ackermann, Coralie Lejeune, Daniela Snyders and Julia Salamon were today sent off into the desert by Daimler – on official business. The female employees of Daimler are taking part on behalf of the automotive manufacturer in the "Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc" desert rally.

Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, was on hand to wave the women off from Stuttgart. Addressing the female employees, Mornhinweg said: "Participation in this desert rally is a tremendous challenge for you. Of course at the same time it is also an exciting adventure. I wish you all the very best of luck, every success and an exciting time. And above all I wish you a safe return!"

Female employees take part in the rally

Female employees of Daimler have already taken part in the desert rally in both 2010 and 2011 – and with a great deal of success. Last year they secured first place in their category at the wheel of a Vito. According to Volker Mornhinweg: "The demand from female employees to take part in this event was huge. This is why this year, in addition to promoting diversity and based on the diversity management policy already in existence at Daimler, we once again wanted to give female staff in the company the opportunity to fulfil their rally dreams."

The vehicles

Daimler has entered three vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Vans in the 2012 rally: two Vito models and one Sprinter. The new generation Vito models have been modified for rally use to include such on-board equipment as roll-over cages, Terratrip mileage recorders, bucket seats, fire extinguishers, underride guard sand special desert tyres. The drivetrain, as well as the brakes and vehicle electronics, meanwhile, are all 100% identical to the series production Vito model.

Except for the shortened wheelbase, the third rally vehicle - a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter - is also a series production vehicle which has been only slightly modified for rally use. The changes it has undergone include special sand tyres, a roll-over cage, bucket sets and an underride guard.

Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

This year's "Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles 2012" is taking place from 17 to 30 March in Morocco. Only women may take part in the rally, which covers a distance of 2500 kilometres and rally comprises seven stages. No fewer than a total of 150 teams from all over the world are lining up on the starting grid this year. It is not the fastest team which wins, but rather the team which is able to find the shortest route between the checkpoints within the given timeframe: all without the aid of GPS systems, binoculars or mobile phones.

There is no payment or prize money for the participants. The revenues generated from the rally are used to finance teams of doctors to provide medical care throughout the year to nomads and the residents of remote villages and settlements in the south of Morocco. In addition, a medical convoy with a mobile clinic travels through the country during the rally to carry out life-saving operations.

Credits: Daimler AG

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