|SCORE 2013: Baja 500 a real bone-breaker for AGM-Jimco Trophy Truck.|
The SCORE "Baja 500" more than lived up to its notorious reputation. Once again, the second round of the 2013 US SCORE Championship turned out to be a true bone-shaker.
For Armin Schwarz and his All German Motorsport squad, the race from Ensenada through Mexico’s Baja California did not run exactly as they had hoped. Minor technical gremlins summed up to a major loss of time and prevented the German-American team from reaching the targeted top result.
Spirits were high before the start. The “Desert Lizard” AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck decked out in the characteristic yellow-green Schaeffler Racing Design had proven to be extremely fast during previous outings. The final test on the weekend before the race was a resounding success.
Armin Schwarz conquered the ninth starting position in the newly introduced qualifying which replaces the draw for the starting order. “The qualifying is good news for us,” explains Armin Schwarz. “We are now surrounded by cars with drivers who are capable of maintaining the same speed as us. And you eat less dust.”
The washboard tracks through the Mexican desert posed a great challenge to all competitors. “Everybody agreed this was the toughest Baja 500 in a long time. It’s very clear that SCORE enters a new era with Roger Norman. It was just incredible what the cars had to endure and how hard they had to perform over those 500 miles”, reports Armin Schwarz.
Knowing what lay ahead, Armin took it easy in the opening phase: “We didn’t storm off the line and immediately go for it. We drove a tactical, cautious race and tried to avoid damages. Our highest priority was a good finish. If you have no technical gremlins all the rest falls into place if you’re easy on the car,” he explained.
In the opening phase the plan worked. Armin Schwarz made up places and was running in sixth when a water pipe in the cooling system started to leak. “We didn’t lose a lot of water so we were able to continue. Still, the pressure went down and we had to keep stopping and refilling the water before we reached our pit stop where we could fix the pipe.”
At the pit stop the AGM team changed the water hose, team boss Martin Christensen took the wheel of the Trophy Truck and tackled the second half of the race. But he too was not spared a setback. With a faulty crankshaft sensor Martin lost more precious time.
In attempting to make up places, Christensen discovered that the terrain and tracks had deteriorated from half the Baja 500 field having gone ahead of him. After enduring the blows, ruts and potholes, Martin got stuck on the extremely difficult track and more time ticked by before he was able to continue. Despite all adversities, Schwarz and Christensen achieved a top 20 place and saw the finish line about five hours after the winner Robby Gordon had reached Ensenada.
“We are naturally very disappointed because we know and we have shown that our Trophy Truck has the potential for top results. And we didn’t take any unnecessary risks on these very tough tracks,” Armin Schwarz summed up the race.
“It’s really frustrating to be thrown back so far with such minor problems. But this is Baja racing. We won’t bury our heads in the sand because we are certain that we can reach our goals. We’ll again do everything to succeed at the next races. On a very positive note, we find that the development of our torque converter is a complete success. We now have a reliable transmission. And the new BF Goodrich tires turned out to be very good. All this gives us extra motivation for the coming races.”
Three more rounds are on this year’s schedule for Armin Schwarz and AGM. Next is the “Vegas to Reno” classic mid August in Nevada. End September the team competes in the HDRA race in Laughlin. With the legendary Baja 1000 based in Ensenada, SCORE wraps up the season setting another highlight of desert racing.
2013/06/04 | 12:45 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SCHWARZ