Baja 1000 in Mexico
If the Dakar Rally is the world's toughest rally, the Baja 1000 in Mexico must be the most unusual rally, covering more than 1,000 kilometres non-stop against the clock, on the toughest of surfaces and with no time check, and therefore with no “visible”
opponents. Volkswagen is celebrating a first at this year's Baja 1000 starting on 21 November 2008, as it enters the top category of this tough race, the so-called trophy trucks, for the very first time with a completely new and specially constructed Baja Race Touareg TDI.
This vehicle, which will be manned by Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero, is fundamentally different to the Race Touareg that Volkswagen developed for the Dakar Rally. “We are expanding our motorsport activities in North America by getting involved in this area of off-road sport,” explains Volkswagen motorsport director, Kris Nissen. “By entering the Baja 1000, we are demonstrating our commitment to yet another of the toughest motorsport events in the world.”
Volkswagen is the first automobile manufacturer to attempt to complete the race in this category using diesel technology. The Baja Race Touareg TDI with rear-wheel drive can summon up some 550 hp from a 5.5-litre V12 diesel engine manufactured by Volkswagen. While petrol-driven cars have an unlimited tank volume, diesel cars have to make do with just 65 US gallons (246 litres). The construction work for the Touareg is being seen to by Arciero-Miller Racing in the USA, while the engine is being prepared in Germany.
The Baja Touareg TDI prototype will strongly resemble the mass-produced vehicle, but will be more than ten per cent bigger in all its proportions – an XL Touareg, so to speak.
The 550 hp strong Baja Touareg TDI will be alternately piloted by the American Mark Miller, who is also part of Volkswagen's “Dakar” team, and his fellow countryman Ryan Arciero. Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero are experts in the cockpit, and both of them have won a number of Baja 1000 and Baja 500 races and off-road titles in the USA. 46-year-old Miller from Phoenix, Arizona, will be accompanied by navigator Willie Valdez Jr, 34, of Los Angeles, California. Ryan Arciero, who hails from Los Angeles, California, and is 35 years old, will enter the race with his 32-year-old co-pilot Benny Metcalf Jr, of San Clemente, California. Decisions on where and when the driver changeovers will take place will be made once the circuit has been viewed and a strategy has been developed.
The project will be officially unveiled by Volkswagen's head of technical development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles on 19 November.