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Off-road challenge: These are Germany's best off-road drivers

Reinhard Schmid
Offroad-Challenge 2010
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W o you can actually still drive off-road in Germany ? In the auto motor und sport off-road challenge you can do that for a whole day and you can even win something. Because together with our partners Mercedes-Benz and Continental we were looking for Germany's best off-road drivers. Three preliminary round competitions have been completed; in Zossen near Berlin, in the Camp4Fun at the Nürburgring and in the Offroad-Park Langenaltheim in Middle Franconia, nine lucky ones from a total of 60 participants were determined. These 4x4 experts will compete in the final competition at the Continental test site in Texas at the end of October.

Off-road events took place in perfect weather

However, all 60 participants received an initial reward on site, because all events took place in the best weather. That was really not a matter of course this summer - Petrus obviously has a heart for off-roaders. Zossen presented itself almost desert-like with wide dry sand areas, and so Ellen Lohr, as a multiple Dakar participant and as an off-road expert at the events, felt at home right away. The courses and trails were marked out by the experts at the driving safety center at Sachsenring. Participant Hendrik Gorisch: 'These are really challenging routes here, you don't drive that kind of thing otherwise. It's great what the cars can do.' There was similar astonishment about the tires, because the Conti 4x4 Contact mounted on all cars showed more bite in the terrain , as many could imagine. Both the Brandenburg sand and the stony terrain in the Eifel were not impossible challenges.

Unbelievable what is possible with a Mercedes GLK

Langenaltheim - GPS coordinates: N 48 ° 53'33 '' E 10 ° 58'05 '' - could have been a problem, because the troops sometimes drove on extremely sharp-edged stone slabs. But here, too, there was only one breakdown, and It was announced. After all, no reader was responsible for the slotted tire, at least not directly. Rally professional Ellen Lohr was available for quick demo drives with participants in a Mercedes GLK. In other words, one of those cars that have already been used as a boulevard off-roader mi be understood. Lohr's understanding of the compact SUV, on the other hand, is completely different. She was tough on him and she was quick too. Some co-drivers got out of the misunderstood little one, literally shaken -unbelievable what is possible with a Mercedes GLK. A flat tire can happen. Stefan Roos put it in a nutshell: 'No matter how we do here today, we will all go home winners.'

Basic off-road theory course was part of every preliminary round

The area of ​​the Langenaltheim Off-Road Park is challenging enough even without high-speed performance, as races for the German off-road vehicle championship take place here . The members of the Unimog Club also meet there in order to be able to offer their universal motorized devices adequate terrain to play with. An ideal place to filter out the last three winners for the final round of the Offroad Challenge. 20 auto motor und sport readers - including two women - competed against each other here, admittedly not without having been briefed on how to drive an off-road vehicle. A basic off-road theory course was part of every preliminary round because the field of participants was, as usual, inhomogeneous. Absolute all-wheel-drive novices competed as well as amateur trial drivers, the range of experience was wide. André Zänker and his team from the Sachsenring traffic safety center and patron Ellen Lohr therefore endeavored to reduce the knowledge backlog of newcomers to the theoretical off-road basic course. If you paid attention here, you could later score one or the other penalty point from the skill course in the theoretical part of the final competition.

The proportion of driving in the off-road challenge is unusually high.

On the other hand, too much theory is not good either, because nobody comes to a quarry to do some work. From the very first minute, 20 pairs of eyes hung on the finely lined up Mercedes SUVs. 'Key-here-we-want-to-drive,' read it. And then the participants also came to drive, extensively. First on some introductory laps through the site, then in the various sections. There was no shortage of praise - not least because, according to some participants, the proportion of driving in the Offroad Challenge is unusually high. One of the most popular exercises, the steep approach, went higher and higher. The task here was to climb an enormous hill with a good 30 degrees or 70 percent gradient. A walk in the gnarled Mercedes G-model that seemed to feel as comfortable as an infant on the mother's breast. But the Mercedes ML also climbed the steep slope as easily as the Yeti climbed the Himalayas.

That creates trust, and so the participants showed no less courage and determination than the cars. In any case, no one shied away from steep slopes - a very good prerequisite for Germany's best off-road driver.

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