Placing first in class last year gave the impetus for Mercedes and a group of its female employees to enter for the third year in a row the “Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc”. Covering a distance of 2500 kilometers, this desert rally takes place in Morocco and consists of seven stages. Rather than garnering fastest times, winners are determined by which team is able to cover the shortest distance between checkpoints – without the aid of GPS units, cellphones or any other electronic aids. Even binoculars are banned.
For the 2012 entries, Daimler has entered three vans: two Vitos 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 guards and sand specific desert tires. The drivetrain, as well as the brakes and vehicle electronics, meanwhile, are all 100% identical to the series production Vito model. Except for a shortened wheelbase, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is also a series production vehicle which has been only slightly modified for rally use. The changes it has include special tires, a rollcage, bucket seats and an sump and chassis guards.