|SCORE Baja 1000: Strong showing with premature end for Armin Schwarz|
Last weekend the 2013 SCORE Championship concluded the season with the ultimate highlight of the year: The "SCORE Baja 1000". A 900-mile loop with the start and finish in Ensenada lead the competitors through extremely challenging terrain right across the Mexican desert.
For Armin Schwarz, Martin Christensen and the All German Motorsports team, the classic race marked the pinnacle of an exciting motorsport year that was filled with highs and lows for the team. However, their strong performance remained unrewarded with the team having to park their AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck trackside after technical troubles.
The lead-up to the race went promisingly and the intense preparation work seemed to pay off. AGM qualified the "Desert Lizard" in the prominent yellow-green Schaeffler Racing design seventh in the starting order – the best qualifying result so far for the AGM Trophy Truck. In the opening phase of the race things looked promising, with Armin Schwarz matching the pace of the top group including multiple Baja 1000 champs BJ Baldwin and Rob MacCachren, with Baldwin going on to clinch another outright victory ahead of McCachren.
"Everything ran perfectly. Our modified torque converter, the entire drive train – everything was just perfect," reports Armin Schwarz who tackled the first half of the desert marathon with navigator Bryan Little. "We kept close to BJ Baldwin, just far enough behind him not to be blinded by his dust. So we were able match his pace."
A flat tyre didn’t pose a problem for Schwarz/Little, the pair changed the wheel in just a minute. "No problem at all. We didn’t lose a position and were able to continue without the dust," reports Armin. The first refueling stop was planned after 135 miles: "All went well, we changed all four wheels for the following rocky terrain because we wanted to ensure we had fresh tyres and perfect rims on our Trophy Truck. Still, in the middle of a very stony bit the left rear wheel bolt broke."
But even this mishap didn’t hold up the AGM duo for too long: "Well, if you’re unlucky that’s the end of it. But we were prepared, we had a spare on board and Bryan changed the bolt within ten minutes. We were still ninth and not nervous because there was still a long, long way to go." Things seemed to look good for Armin Schwarz and AGM to grab a top result.
However, events turned out completely different. After over 370 miles of racing the engine temperatures suddenly ran riot. "We were on a very fast stretch, over 20 miles mostly straight where the cooling is best - normally. Suddenly the engine temperatures shot up, then it fell and rose even higher. We knew straight away that we had air in our cooling system," explains Armin Schwarz. At race mile 375 Armin stopped at a pit point of the tyre partner BF Goodrich in order to check the coolant level and found that the car had lost a considerable amount of water. At present the reason is unclear. "We can only guess at this point and analyse later what happened," says Armin Schwarz.
Unfortunately there was no doubt that the race was over for AGM. "We discussed the situation with Martin and made up our minds not to tackle the next section which would have been 135 miles of extremely rough going. We didn’t want to risk an engine failure. When you strand in this section you’re going to spend the night there. It is so bad that no one would be able to drive in and pick you up."
"At first the frustration is huge," admits Armin Schwarz. "All our team worked so hard towards this race, and all our partners supported us wholeheartedly. And when you have to pack up that’s a hard one to take. But this can happen. Now we’re going to find the reason for the loss of coolant. And we’ll take the good memories from Ensenada back with us. After all, we proved we can be right up amongst the top contenders with our AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck. This shows that we are on the right track."
"A huge thank you to all our team members for the hard work and to our partners whose support made it possible for us to demonstrate here that we have a competitive speed. All components that we worked on with our partners over the last months have worked perfectly and pushed us further to the top. And I’d like to congratulate BJ Baldwin and his team, and to express my respect for their great effort. BJ drove the entire distance as an ‘Iron Man’. This is simply incredible – and he arrived at Ensenada as the winner!"
AGM had one team member with them who will very likely never forget his journey into the desert: Thomas Kraizcok from Cologne, Germany, qualified for the trip by winning the Schaeffler IAA Rally Experience. At the International Frankfurt Motorshow Thomas was the best of no less than 2680 competitors on the Schaeffler Baja Simulator and won the trip with Armin Schwarz to the Baja 1000. "That was a great thing. Thomas very much enjoyed being a member of our team for the preparations and race. He learned a lot about desert racing. You never know – he’s studying engineering and maybe one day he might apply what he learned in the Mexican desert as an engineer researching for Schaeffler," says Armin Schwarz.
This year’s Baja 1000 was overshadowed by the tragic fatal accident of the US American motorbike rider Kurt Caselli. The thoughts and sympathy of Armin Schwarz and the entire AGM team go to Kurt’s family and the KTM team. "When things like this happen it makes the sport seem so unimportant. We extend our deepest condolences to Kurt’s family and to KTM."
2013/11/18 | 18:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SCHWARZ