|SCORE 2013: Armin Schwarz contests Baja 500 in the AGM "Desert Lizard".|
Bone-rattling washboard tracks combined with full tack through the desert: Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports tackle the next test of endurance. This coming weekend (30 May to 2 June), the squad contests the "Baja 500" with their AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck.
Round two of the 2013 U.S. Score Championship takes off in Ensenada, Mexico, and runs a loop over 501 miles straight through the Baja California and back to the coastal city on the Pacific.
This year marks the 45th running of the Baja 500 which is traditionally regarded as the final rehearsal for the legendary "Baja 1000". The route is partly identical to that of the 1,000 mile race. A new feature is the qualification: For the first time, the starting positions for a SCORE race are not chosen by a lottery, but will be determined in a qualifying session on Thursday.
Awaiting the AGM-run Trophy Truck, which is also affectionately known in the SCORE scene as the “Desert Lizard” thanks to its yellow and green Schaeffler Racing Design, is predominantly rough rally tracks. “Unlike the Baja 1000 where it leads into open terrain to the south of the Mexican peninsular with sandy desert tracks, the Baja 500 features a high proportion of passages as we know them from rallying,” explains Armin Schwarz.
This means that the competitors have to deal with very hard and rough ground on hilly and twisty tracks. But that’s exactly the habitat that “desert lizards” prefer. “Our car is designed and set-up for such tracks. Plus ours is lighter than the other Trophy Trucks, so the route should definitely suit us,” said Armin Schwarz.
The ultimate test of endurance for man and machine at the Baja 500 is the passage over deep bumps, for which the name “washboards” is somewhat of an understatement. A sturdy suspension is one of the keys to success. This is also one of the areas in which AGM has planned for. Their partner Fox has developed a new bypass-shock absorber with which the Trophy Truck can roar even smoother over the uneven terrain.
During the break since the Baja 250, the crew under team boss Martin Christensen has worked intensively on fine-tuning and further developing the torque converter together with Jeff Hemphill’s Schaeffler team. At the final test several days before the Baja 500, the focus was on the set-up of the suspension and torque converter. Because of the rally-like character of the race, the tyres are also of critical importance. “In this regard we can rely on our partner BFGoodrich and their rallying expertise,” says Armin Schwarz.
When it comes to All German Motorsports, let the race begin. The team and the car are ready to tackle the Baja 500, and the Trophy Truck has already shown in the previous race that it is one of the fastest cars in the field. But anything can happen in the desert, and bad luck recently prevented a podium result.
Accordingly, Armin Schwarz is cautious in formulating his personal goal: “From a pure performance perspective we have good chances to climb the podium and I also believe that we can aim for that. But of course it also depends on how the race goes – you need that touch of luck. And that was missing often enough, therefore I’m reining in my expectations a little. I’d personally be quite content if we finished in the top ten. If we could finish in the top five I’d be really happy – and a podium spot would of course be the icing on the cake.”
This year, the Baja 500 is not only part of the U.S. SCORE Championship – but also a round of the Dakar Challenge which is run by the A.S.O, the organiser of the famous Dakar Rally. Armin Schwarz is the representative of the A.S.O. in the USA and has done his part in ensuring that the SCORE organiser Roger Norman and the promoters of the Dakar Rally now work together.
In addition to the Baja 500, another event organised by Norman, the 500 Miles of Reno (USA), has also been added to the Dakar Challenge calendar. The most successful drivers of this series are automatically qualified to take part in the 2014 Dakar Rally. The goal of this co-operation is to make the Dakar more interesting for the U.S. scene – and attract more American racers to the marathon across South America.
“Early this year I visited the Dakar Rally with Roger and now I feel a certain pride that they have agreed to this partnership,” says Armin Schwarz. “It has been tried several times over the past years to bring the Dakar and the Baja scenes closer together, and it’s wonderful that we’ve now achieved this. Now I hope that many U.S. racers enter the Dakar Challenge, and that Baja Offroad Racing is well represented at the 2014 Dakar Rally.”
2013/05/27 | 12:53 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/WEDDIGE