|SCORE Baja 250: Highs and lows for the "Desert Lizard" of Armin Schwarz.|
The desert rocks again: With the Baja 250 in San Felipe, Mexico, Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports took off into the 2013 offroad racing season. But Armin Schwarz and his team came away after 250 miles on the Baja California with mixed feelings.
They leave Mexico with many positive impressions, but the hoped for podium result at the season-opener remained out of reach for the German-American squad. A fuel shortage cost the team valuable time. How this came about is still unclear, but it put a damper on an otherwise successful race week.
The Baja 250 marked the race premiere of the new liveried AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck, and the design in the classical Schaeffler Racing colours of green and yellow caused great excitement in the scene. The striking colouring is well known in the German Touring Car Masters and now they are conquering the desert.
"The yellow-green design is really well received. It looks fabulous, it is eye catching and visible from a distance. Our Trophy Truck has now been given the nickname "Desert Lizard". I reckon this name fits perfectly, because it makes people think of speed and agility," says Armin Schwarz.
With the "Desert Lizard", Armin Schwarz and AGM went hunting for the Baja podium. In winter, the team and partners took the AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck apart and fined-tuned all areas. And the improvements were noticeable in the race. Armin Schwarz took off from 25th. The former European Rally Champion used the new starting procedure at the Baja 250, with vehicles taking off at minute intervals, to quickly make up one position after the other."
"At race mile 60 he was already running fifth. Even two flat tyres caused by rim defects couldn’t halt his charge. "A rim was bent, probably hit by a stone, and air escaped from the tyre. The second flat was when the rim broke in the middle after a couple of metres. We have to analyse how this could happen. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the rims were recoated and where needed sandblasted and this may have changed the material," thinks Armin Schwarz. "This threw us back to ninth place but that was not a problem because had worked our way forward again."
The chase through the field, however, came to a temporary halt at race mile 164. The Trophy Truck stopped in the middle of the desert – out of gas, and only ten miles from the scheduled service and refuelling stop. Armin Schwarz and AGM lost about an hour until the refuelling car had reached the vehicle over rough terrain and the Trophy Truck could continue.
"That’s very strange, we now have to look at how this could have happened," said a puzzled Armin Schwarz. "On Thursday we went tyre testing with our partner BF Goodrich and calculated the right amount of fuel based on consumption. But suddenly our fuel consumption was much higher than on Thursday. We still don’t know why but we have to find out."
"It was really annoying to get so close to the service stop, get stranded in the desert and lose so much time. My teammate Martin Christensen came from the service point to help us with the fuel and we handed the car over to him in the desert. He finally brought the Trophy Truck over the finish line about an hour behind in 17th position. The fact that the time we lost was exactly an hour makes it all the more upsetting."
Hence, Armin Schwarz has mixed feelings. "The car felt really good, it drove superbly and we had no problems passing and getting ahead. But in the end it’s the final result that counts and sadly that is rather disappointing. It would have been fantastic to kick off the season with a top result and it’s really annoying if that doesn’t happen. But what can we do. Now we have to take the positive approach, analyse exactly what the problems were and look ahead to the future. And there were plenty of positives on this weekend and we were still able to earn a few points."
Schwarz is not only thrilled about the general enthusiasm for the new Schaeffler Racing Design and the overall strong performance of the AGM-Jimco X6 Trophy Truck, but also about the future plans of the new SCORE boss Roger Norman. The American organises the United States offroad series HDRA and has also taken over the responsibility of the SCORE championship from "Mister Baja" Sal Fish. "He does a huge amount in terms of public relations. He works closely with television and tries to ensure that the series gets even more live coverage on TV and the internet. That is a great help to us and our partners," says Armin Schwarz.
Moreover, Roger Norman has announced a cooperation with the Dakar organiser A.S.O. Since the end of 2012, Armin Schwarz is the contact person in the USA for the Dakar organiser. Through his excellent contacts with drivers, teams and organisers, he is particularly valuable to the A.S.O. The clear objective is to bring more U.S. racers to the Dakar Rally.
For this reason, Armin Schwarz was significantly involved in assisting in the lead-up. As part of the cooperation, round two of the SCORE Championship season, the Baja 500 in Ensenada, will be included on the 2013 Dakar Challenge calendar. Armin Schwarz and AGM will tackle this rally with their "Desert Lizard" from 31 May to 2 June.
"Working together with the creators of the famous Dakar Rally is a great advertisement for our sport. Through this, the Baja races will receive even more publicity," says Armin Schwarz. In addition to the Baja 500, Roger Norman has also organised this year the 500 miles of Reno (12 to 14 July) as part of the Dakar Challenge. The most successful drivers from the Dakar Challenge qualify for the 2014 Dakar Rally.
2013/03/12 | 00:03 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/AGM