|SCORE Baja 1000: The desert rocks again for All German Motorsports.|
A state of excitement buzzes in and around Ensenada once again this coming weekend, when tens of thousands of racing fans flock to the Mexican coastal city for the annual highlight of the desert racing season: the legendary "Baja 1000". Armin Schwarz, Martin Christensen and their All German Motorsports team are also ready and raring to finally tackle this iconic race. For them as well, this infamous classic is the highlight of the year – and it’s the ultimate test for their AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck in the distinctive yellow and green Schaeffler Racing Design.
The Baja 1000 marks the final round of the 2013 SCORE championship, and organiser Roger Norman was anything but timid in his choice of the route. He has combined tried and true turf with passages that have long been removed from the Baja 1000. The result is an extremely selective circular route of about 900 miles in length, where just about everything that makes the Baja racing so infamous is thrown at competitors: tortuous bumps, rock-hard washboards and high-speed passages through the desert. The Baja 1000 starts on Friday (15 November) in Ensenada.
From there, the route heads towards San Felipe and along the Gulf of Mexico to the south, before crossing over to the Pacific and Punta Blanco. This section is new territory for many Baja 1000 contenders, including Armin Schwarz who will contest his seventh desert classic next week. From the Pacific coast, the route heads back inland. At race mile 400, the AGM team makes its driver change, where Armin Schwarz and co-pilot Bryan Little hand the yellow and green “Desert Lizard” to their teammates Martin Christensen/Tyler Irwin. From there, the route winds over another 400 miles back to Ensenada.
The AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck faces anything but than a walk in the park. “The first 200 miles alone are over really tough terrain,” states Armin Schwarz. And it doesn’t get any better after that, the pilots have just a moment to catch their breath. Organiser Roger Norman has included the notorious “San Felipe Whoops”, with vehicles having to traverse extreme bumps. Afterwards on the route south, an even greater challenge awaits man and machine. “That is the nasty ‘Puertecitos Road’. It is really rough and tough.
At times you reach 180 kph over steps that are 30 to 50-centimetres high. It’s easy to get a puncture and this bone-shaker of a road is truly unpleasant for both driver and vehicle,” explains Armin Schwarz. The main thing for him is to stay focused to the last mile, particularly as the last 50 miles before the driver change are also testing. “I’ve never actually driven this part of the route before. These 50 miles are marked on the map as a speed zone, and Martin told me many times that you drive through deep sand and dust the entire time. I’m very curious to see what challenges are waiting for me there.”
AGM has prepared intensively for the ultimate test – with support from strong partners. Armin Schwarz and his team were on site at the Development Center of the Schaeffler subsidiary, LuK USA in Wooster, Ohio. Communicating directly with LuK engineers, the torque converter was further optimised. “We fined-tuned some details and changed the angles and the oil flow for instance. In this way we have improved the performance,” reports Armin Schwarz. “Once again I’d like to send my special thanks to Wooster and Herzogenaurach for the excellent cooperation, and belated congratulations from AGM for winning the 2013 DTM with Mike Rockenfeller.”
Extensive testing was then on the programme in the desert near Las Vegas. Not only the torque converter that was further developed with Schaeffler und LuK was tested. “We tuned the car once again and made final changes to the suspension. Thanks to our partner Fox who helped us with the final set-up and also to Eibach. They custom-made some new springs for us that we would otherwise never have managed to get so quickly.” Great support also came from tyre manufacturer Michelin. The subsidiary BFGoodrich, another long-term partner of AGM, supplied new tyres that underlined their endurance and durability under testing. “We drove the car hard for two days and not only worked on durability but also found some more speed,” Schwarz concludes.
Last week, the Trophy Truck again visited Las Vegas. At the SEMA Motorshow, the “Lizard” proved a real eye-catcher at the stand of AGM partner Liqui Moly, which supplies the squad with special, desert-proof oils and lubricants. For the Baja 1000, Armin Schwarz and his team have gained a new partner: “I would also like to thank Oerlikon, which we have on the car this time. Oerlikon is a specialist in the field of drive technology and surface coating. They are using the chance to see what possibilities there might be to work alongside us as a race partner. It would be fantastic if this could develop into a long-term partnership.”
And now the countdown is on. With the last test in Mexico, AGM moves into the final preparations for the ultimate Baja classic, and on Friday things get serious. AGM will tackle the Baja with cautious aggression. “Our main goal is to finish well without incident. We’re not going to let ourselves get carried away with some crazy tactics,” explains Armin Schwarz. “It goes without saying that our whole team has the racing spirit. We’re not concerned about just driving and finishing, in fact quite the opposite. We want to finish as far up the front as possible, and we are aiming for a top placing.”
Armin Schwarz and his AGM team are not alone in their anticipation of the Baja 1000. They have a very special guest in Mexico: Thomas Kraizcok from Cologne, the winner of the Schaeffler IAA Rally Experience. At the International Automobile Show at the Schaeffler stand, he beat all the other 2680 participants in the Schaeffler Baja Simulator. The reward for his performance is an unforgettable experience to witness the Baja 1000 with Armin Schwarz. “We’ll fly together to LA, drive to the team in Escondido, load up the prerunner and everything else we need for the prerun, and then head off to San Felipe to begin the prerun,” outlines Armin Schwarz. “Thomas will be a passenger in the chase support, in the prerunner, and in the final Trophy Truck test. Because he is with us for ten days, he will get to know all the Baja areas. During the race he will assist the team. Thomas is an engineering student and so he’s somewhat predestined for this. We’re looking forward to having him with us at the most legendary Baja rally ever.”
2013/11/09 | 18:29 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/AGM