|SCORE Baja 1000: Defect nickel and dime part robbed Schwarz all chances.|
"That’s racing" - is how Armin Schwarz sums up the turbulent "SCORE Baja 1000", the highlight of the 2012 US SCORE Championship. Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports had their sights set on a podium spot at the infamous rally through Mexico’s Baja California.
After several tests and meticulous preparation, the AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck was ready to face the toughest challenge of Baja racing. But then a defect part worth just a few cents held up the team for hours, robbing the outfit of the chance to bring home a top result.
The 45th edition of the Baja 1000 led through the Mexican desert, from Ensenada in the north to La Paz in the south. Participants tackled around 1,150 miles of toughest terrain, with metre-high bumps, gravel and sand tracks as well as passes and hairpins.
Not to forget the legendary ‘silt beds’ that stretch for miles through the desert: deep, powdery sand that turns visibility and propulsion to zilch. The first half of the race ran virtually to plan for All German Motorsports. Taking up the race from starting position 33 was not an easy task, but Armin Schwarz ploughed his way through the field and had his sight set on the front-runners.
"After the first six miles we got a slow puncture at the rear and had to change the wheel. We then got stuck for a bit in the extreme dust, but that’s quite normal at the Baja 1000," reports Armin Schwarz. "Afterwards we picked up the pace and things were going well for us. We were able to fight our way towards the front, and at race mile 520 we were running in seventh. Our plan seemed to be working. We had not even covered half the distance and were making very good progress."
But after a little over 600 race miles the hunt for a podium spot at the Baja 1000 came to a sudden end, just 25 miles from the pit stop where teammate Martin Christensen was waiting to take over the wheel. The reason: a defect seal in the hydraulics of the torque converter.
"That’s why the torque converter lost huge amounts of oil and we had no more drive. The reason for this defect is very probably that we went through more than 30 miles of very deep silt prior to this. That’s where the temperatures shoot up and you can’t stop otherwise you get stuck," explains Armin Schwarz. Schwarz was pinned there for almost seven hours.
To make matters worse, the AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck was stranded in all but impassable terrain. Despite there being no direct access, the technicians from All German Motorsports took only two hours to reach their racer and tow it out for repairs. "That’s just like the Dakar rally. If you get stuck in the middle of the dunes it’s almost impossible to reach you," says Armin Schwarz.
"We had to take out the gearbox and the torque converter to reach the hydraulic part with the faulty seal and then put it all back together again. And this took us four more hours."
But for Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports there was not one second where they considered throwing in the towel. "It was clear that we would do the repairs and keep going. If we had managed to fix everything in three or four hours we could have achieved a top ten result. But seven hours at a standstill made this impossible."
Martin Christensen reached the finish in La Paz as the 14th Trophy Truck and 51st place overall. Victory went for the second time since 2010 to local heroes Tavo and Gustavo Vildosola from Mexico. "Congratulations to our friends at the Vildosola team. Congratulations guys! You’re really awesome," said Armin Schwarz.
"It was really a cheap part that put a spoke in the wheel so to speak," summed up Armin Schwarz. "Otherwise we would have been really pleased. All other parts lasted, including the transmission parts which we had tested thoroughly. Our strategy worked too. At the driver change we replaced the drive shaft to shorten their running time. All this worked perfectly. But as it so often happens a totally different part gave up the ghost when you least expected it. Well, that’s the Baja 1000 - you simply can’t predict it."
But right now, Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports are looking to the future: The highly motivated squad tackles the 2013 SCORE Championship and Baja 1000. "We have shown that our car has the necessary speed now and we were well prepared. The Trophy Truck ran well, our set-up was right and we were very competitive. We are feeling confident for 2013," emphasises Armin Schwarz.
"We would like to thank all our partners and sponsors who have supported us in constantly improving our Trophy Truck in its maiden season of racing and making it as competitive as it is now. This would be unthinkable without the incredible support from all sides of partners. They were always there - at short notice, with flexibility and without all the red tape. Just because they are as passionate as we are. A heartfelt thank you to you all!"
Things went better for All German Motorsports in the fiercely-contested category for Class One Buggies. Start driver Armin Kremer managed to hand over the Buggy after 255 miles to Andy Mancin ranking second.
Mancin, for whom this marked his first time here in the Buggy, battled with the deep dust and was unable to defend his position. Still, he handed the car ranking eighth to AGM’s regular class one Buggy driver Tony Miglini, who brought the AGM Buggy home after his 580 mile stint seventh in the class.
"Our congratulations to the team and a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us," commented Armin Schwarz. "And what is even better. Everyone from AGM made it back safely to La Paz. But right now: Baja 1000, we’ll be back!"
2012/11/19 | 11:57 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SCHWARZ