Armin Schwarz and All German Motorsports had a podium spot in sight at the Baja 500 only to be halted by a broken wishbone
Ensenada (MEX), 4 June 2012. The hard work that All German Motorsports and its partners like Fortin, Schaeffler and Liqui Moly had put in has paid off: The AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck proved to be extremely competitive on the washboard track of the Baja 500 on the Mexican Baja California. But the just rewards for Armin Schwarz and his team were not forthcoming. A broken wishbone dashed all hopes in the fierce charge through the desert.
The Baja 500 was the third round of the 2012 US SCORE Championship and ran over 500 bone-shaking miles around Ensenada. Armin Schwarz and his co-pilot Bryan Lyttle contested the first stint in the AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck. “Our race went very well and according to plan. We started from the 20th spot and got through the traffic just fine, passing some vehicles on the way. At the changeover we were running in fifth and it looked as if we could continue moving up the field,” Schwarz reports.
After 204 race miles, he handed the Trophy Truck to his AGM colleague and team boss Martin Christensen. “The changeover point was actually planned for mile 242, but we brought it forward because after 204 miles there was an extremely bumpy section which the cars tackle better with full fuel tanks. By handing the car over early we saved a second stop plus time,” explains Schwarz. Moreover, they changed the drive shaft. “We got a flat tyre along the way and afterwards there was a vibration. We didn’t know where the vibration was coming from so to be on the safe side we changed the drive shaft.”
Christensen then took over the Trophy Truck and made a spirited charge for a podium result. But his hopes were dashed at mile 258. “I scraped against an embankment and broke the lower front wishbone,” outlined Christensen. “That is a little weird because when you’re going flat out you get way more hits on these parts than scraping a bank. We have to talk to the designer about the piece.” Christensen then found himself stranded in the desert. “It took the crew over three hours to reach Martin and weld the wishbone,” said Schwarz. The time lost was so much that the Trophy Truck was transported back to Ensenada.
“Of course it’s annoying – especially because it looked very much like a podium result for us. But that’s Baja racing, that happens when you go for it,” said Schwarz. “And you have to attack because if you don’t you’re left for dust. Bryce Menzies, who won the Baja 500 for the second time straight, reached the finish line after 500 miles with a mere eleven second advantage over second-place B.J. Baldwin. This shows just how close it gets. If you don’t attack you have no chance of a top placing.”
The positive feedback that Schwarz and AGM gained at this dress rehearsal for the season highlight the Baja 1000 in November is crucial. “The car goes well, the performance of our Trophy Truck is good, and there are a couple of things we can improve. With our partners we have managed to fix any problems that we had at the first two races,” the former European Rally Champion summed up. “It’s all looking good. But it would have been great to bring home a good result. The team has worked hard over the last months since we have the Trophy Truck. So it would have been a good result to reach the finish in Ensenada. Still, everyone knows this race, we know how you have to drive it and the Baja is mercilessly unforgiving.”
To now, the AGM squad’s race luck this year has not been with them: At the first two races of the SCORE season, teething problems put the brand new AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Trucks out of contention. These have now been rectified, but at the last furious ride through the desert bad luck brought an early end. “We’re staying positive. It’s supposed to be a good omen when the dress rehearsal doesn’t go well. And all ‘bad things’ come in threes – so now it should all work at the Baja 1000,” grins Schwarz. The desert classic, which celebrates its 45th running this year, is scheduled for mid-November. Preparations will start now. Schwarz and AGM plan to conduct more extensive tests in the Mexican desert.
Success however was not entirely lacking. In the Class One Buggy, Tony Maglini and Andres Ruffo from Mexico finished fourth. Andres Ruffo replaced Armin Kremer for this race, who had to pull out at the last minute. “That was a great performance and our technicians have contributed a great deal to the success because they brought the car perfectly over the distance. The route was unbelievably tough, so fourth place was a great result,” said Schwarz. Kremer will be back in the Class One Buggy cockpit to contest the Baja 1000.