Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Volkswagen Motorsports FLASHBACK BAJA 500 2007



WOLFSBURG, Germany -
Impressive début of the Volkswagen Race Touareg in North America: In the Baja 500 offroad classic, the factory duo of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) clinched class victory ahead of their team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany).
In the overall classification of the 273 competing vehicles, Miller/Pitchford took eleventh, and de Villiers/von Zitzewitz 16th place. Volkswagen impressed particularly with its modern TDI diesel technology as the two Race Touareg cars powered by 2.5-litre five-cylinder TDI engines were the only vehicles to complete the 420.11-mile (675.92-km) Baja 500, which is considered the world's toughest one-day rally, without a single refuelling stop."

This was a strong showing of the Race Touareg on unusual and extremely tough terrain, and this success proves its ruggedness and reliability. Both Touaregs were running perfectly, the tyres on both vehicles were changed only once – that was all," Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen summed up the positive outcome. "The drivers and co-drivers as well as the entire team prepared themselves perfectly for this unusual task, and our special thanks go to Volkswagen of America for their outstanding support."Race Touareg thrills and surprises fansAs early as during the tremendous parade to the Technical Scrutineering in the centre of the North Mexican town of Ensenada, the Race Touareg was the major attraction for the huge crowd of fans. This prototype, which was developed for fielding in the world famous Dakar Rally, appeared virtually compact amidst the huge Trophy Trucks and Buggies with their brawny V8 engines.

After several official pre-runs of the route preceding the actual rally on 02 June, Giniel de Villiers was definitely pensive: "The track is so brutal that it will be a success just taking both Touaregs all the way to the finish." Initially, these were the sentiments of many Americans as well, but with each mile the enthusiasm for the two blue Race Touareg cars of the Volkswagen Red Bull team grew."It's fantastic how well our Race Touaregs were running on this tough terrain," commented Mark Miller. The American, who – with co-driver Ralph Pitchford at his side – finished this year's Dakar Rally in fourth place overall, knows what he's talking about, having contested the Baja 500 as many as ten times, with five overall Baja victories to his credit. "Of course I'm very proud being able to contest the Baja with Volkswagen and to thus demonstrate the Touareg's power and performance this way,"Mark Miller added. "

The fact that we achieved this success with a diesel engine that is relatively quiet but develops incredible torque and, what's more, without having to refuel even once while the U.S. vehicles had to stop for fuel two or even three times is a milestone in the long history of the Baja and proves how advanced TDI technology is."Giniel de Villiers, runner-up in the 2006 "Dakar" in the Race Touareg, noted with surprise:"Only on the extremely bumpy parts of the track did we have a disadvantage compared to the U.S. vehicles with their long suspension travels, as we are subject to extreme limitations in this regard on account of the Dakar regulations. Except for this aspect, we were definitely able to keep the pace and were often even faster. Due to the huge amount of dust, though, or the tight tracks, we weren't able to overtake very often. After all, we didn't want to take any unnecessary risks."Reaching the finish after ten hours.

When Miller/Pitchford and de Villiers/von Zitzewitz reached the finish in Ensenada after ten hours, they were showing obvious signs of the ordeal and the endless dust they'd been through. "It's incredible how we were shaken about over the entire distance. I can feel every fibre of my body," commented Ralph Pitchford. And Mark Miller, as well, had to admit: "That was the toughest, most brutal route I've ever driven in a Baja 500."Consequently, the Volkswagen foursome particularly relished the celebration after reaching the finish, and patiently answered questions of the many fans and media representatives. "This Baja 500 is a huge spectacle with enormous fan support and enthusiasm.

The event exceeded all my expectations. It was a great experience, a strenuous as well as a fascinating one," said Dirk von Zitzewitz in the end.Baja history has close ties to VolkswagenBy fielding the two Race Touraregs, Volkswagen of America continued a long tradition, as the history of these rallies on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California, not far from the U.S. city of San Diego, is closely linked to Volkswagen. Volkswagen already competed in the Baja's 1967 début, and the legendary VW Buggy was guaranteed to be successful in the Bajas and became a cult car. To this day, numerous cars designed by privateers, some of them based on the Beetle, are powered by VW engines."During the pre-runs for this Baja 500 we even worked out new suspension set-ups, which may enable us to make further strides in the Dakar Rally, particularly in camel grass," explained Mark Miller. "Of course it would be great to also compete in the sister rally, the Baja 1000, in November. The Race Touareg has got what it takes to successfully master this long Baja as well. But at that time, of course, the preparations for the 2008 'Dakar' will take precedence."

VW UPDATE MAY 30, 2007

North America début: Volkswagen Race Touareg in Baja 500

Début of the Volkswagen Race Touareg in North America: Volkswagen will enter two vehicles with the driver/co-driver pairings of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) in the legendary Baja 500. The offroad race will be staged at Ensenada on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California on 2 June on a 500-mile loop, equating to roughly 800 kilometres. The Baja 500 is seen as the “little sister” of the Baja 1000, which is closely connected with the origin of the first generation of buggies based on Volkswagen technology.

"We are happy about being able to enter a Volkswagen Race Touareg for the first time in a competition in North America and are looking forward to this exceptional rally with eager anticipation,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The event presents a good opportunity to demonstrate the power and performance of Volkswagen’s TDI technology in front of a large audience. The organisers of the American SCORE offroad series also had a major interest in Volkswagen making its factory début in the Baja 500. What’s important to us is to show a good performance in completely new terrain.”

Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller as the local hero of U.S. fans

Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller has previously contested the Baja 500 as many as ten times – on a motorcycle and in heavy American Trophy Trucks. Nevertheless, the five-time Baja winner is particularly looking forward to his participation at the wheel of a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. "On account of their higher power and longer suspension travel, the American Trophy Trucks are probably superior to us on the extremely fast and straight tracks, but the good suspension of the compact and more agile Race Touareg can probably display its strengths on the twisty sections. I’m expecting a very exciting rally. Of course, celebrating my first victory with the Race Tourag here would be a dream.”

In the roughly 800-kilometre one-day event on the peninsula of Baja California in the northern part of Mexico the regulations allow more freedom of action than – for example – in the Dakar Rally or the Cross-Country World Rally Cup. "There are more things allowed such as team members accompanying the rally vehicles in helicopters to keep the drivers posted on how the rally is going. As the large trucks and buggies do not have any rear-view mirrors, and are not equipped with Sentinel systems enabling faster vehicles to signal their approach like in the ’Dakar’, it’s certainly common practice to ‘tap’ a vehicle in front of you, in other words to make your presence known by slightly touching its rear. With our flat and compact Race Touareg 2, this will be pretty difficult because we’d tend to drive under the high trucks rather than ‘tapping’ them,” explained Mark Miller, who will be contesting the event with his South African co-driver Ralph Pitchford. Pitchford will be competing in North America for the first time.

Baja début for Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz

For Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the second Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, the American Baja rallies are new territory as well. "The Baja 500 is a long offroad sprint race. Due to the hard tracks covered with potholes, this will probably be an extremely tough event for both man and material. I’ve been told that the track resembles the Dakar Rally’s legs in Northern Morocco,” said Giniel de Villiers. "Experience is particularly important here, as some of the parts of the route are repeated frequently. We do not yet know what is awaiting us, but we would be very pleased to ultimately finish among the top five. I don’t expect that a better result will be possible competing against the U.S. drivers in their big trucks.”

"Unlike the situation in the Dakar Rally or Cross-Country Rally World Cup, we have the opportunity here to drive the entire route before in so-called pre-runs with a service vehicle or the Race Touareg,” said co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. "Of course we’ll make use of this opportunity. Similar to the roadbooks in a classical rally, we are planning to prepare detailed rally notes. Unlike the large trucks, we won’t necessarily have to make any refuelling stops during the race thanks to our five-cylinder TDI engine. Our goal will be to complete the entire distance on one tank of diesel fuel and with as few tyre changes as possible."

Sal Fish states, "Volkswagen engines are the most successful in the history of desert racing". Wow, tall statement.

Diesel powered Race Touareg 2's head to Mexico with American Mark Miller and South African Giniel de Villiers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 10 /Baja Racing News/ -- Volkswagen of America, Inc. has officially entered two Volkswagen Motorsport Dakar Rally vehicles in this year's running of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, June 1-3, 2007. This will be the first race for the Race Touareg 2 vehicles in North America, and also marks the first ever Volkswagen factory racing entry in the legendary SCORE desert series racing. The Volkswagen team will feature an international cast of Volkswagen works drivers ready to tackle the challenging terrain of the Baja peninsula.

Race Touareg # 81i will be driven by American Mark Miller with his South African co-driver Ralph Pitchford. For Miller, the 45 year old Phoenix, Arizona native, this event will be a unique opportunity to bring together his experience and success from two of the most revered off-road races in the world. He is a five time Baja Champion and the highest finishing American driver ever in a four-wheeled vehicle at Dakar, taking fourth place overall this past January with Pitchford onboard as co-driver.

Piloting Race Touareg # 83i will be South African Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. While this will be the first SCORE race for de Villiers, the 34 year old driver from Stellenbosch, South Africa, he is very familiar with the turbo diesel powered Race Touareg, having placed second overall in the 2006 Dakar rally.

The Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 is powered by an 'in-line' five cylinder, 2.5-liter four-valve per cylinder TDI diesel engine, fitted with a two-stage intercooled turbo-charger system. In this configuration, the engine produces 285 horsepower and over 440 ft.lbs of torque. The engine is positioned longitudinally behind the front suspension, and sends its power to a longitudinally mounted six-speed sequential race gearbox. A permanent four- wheel drive system featuring three mechanical differentials with viscous locking is used to provide superior traction.

"Volkswagen is looking forward to being involved in the 39th Annual Baja 500. It is a tremendously famous racing event worldwide, and running our Race Touaregs in North America is an excellent opportunity for us to show the potential of the Volkswagen TDI diesel engine technology", said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "It will be a great experience not only from a technical standpoint, but also for our logistics, race preparation and team organization."

SCORE says, "The Baja 500 extremely excited to have these two international Volkswagen factory Race Touaregs competing. "We are also looking forward to enjoying the performance of the Volkswagen Turbo Diesel engines in this environment. Volkswagen engines are the most successful in the history of desert racing and this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us involved with this unique and incredible motorsport."

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Volkswagen Rabbit, Volkswagen New Beetle, Volkswagen New Beetle convertible, Volkswagen GTI, Jetta, Volkswagen GLI, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Passat wagon, Volkswagen Eos, and Volkswagen Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.

Totally Horrible Paths!

The German Rally-Champion Armin Schwarz is starting again at the SCORE Baja 500 - for the second time. He´s writing about his preparations in the U.S.: On the last weekend in April I had the great pleasure to sit in the Buggy of All German Motorsports again. We tested from Saturday to Monday in Nevada and Mexico. The whole experience was pure motorsport - and a driving orgy. I'm totally excited... but let's look at one thing after the other:

On Saturday, 28 April we drove in the Nevada desert: an open, fast terrain with deep wash-outs. When I say deep I mean anything from 70 cm to two metres. With the 700 hp Buggy we simply annihilated the one-metre gullies without slowing down at all. To be honest it's still unbelievably how our suspension survived this. With the two-metre wash-outs we climbed down with our buggy and up the other side.

At first, the rear of our buggy kicked up a bit when the springs went on block. That is a rather strange feeling at such high speeds. And another thing: A rear axle in the air doesn't give any propulsion. We changed the rebound of the shocks and managed to fix this problem.

We spent Sunday and Monday on the Baja California in Mexico: lots of first gear, mighty rocks, extremely long climbs on the single trials. These are narrow, often steep and totally horrible paths. Most important thing here is the greatest possible axle articulation and plenty of torque at relatively low revs. We were happy with the suspension. But the gearbox is still too long. For the Baja 500 at the beginning of June we will not be able to work on this. But for September we will find a suitable shorter gear ratio.

After dinner out into the desert again - just for fun

Our tests here reminded me a lot of the Safari Rallies of 20 years ago. The feeling of freedom here still seems unlimited. We could drive when and wherever we wanted to - and along the way met many, many adventurers who were either preparing for the Baja or simply enjoying their freedom with their ATVs, trucks, buggies or whatever else they felt like driving. Even Superstars like Robby Gordon sometimes turn up with their mates in the desert to spend some time driving extreme Offroad or looking for adventure out in nature. They hang out at hotels like Mike's Sky Ranch. These hotels are in the middle of nowhere, are only accessible for offroad specialists along donkey trails and are usually booked out the whole year.

Sometimes after dinner we would leap back into our Buggy and head out into the desert to drive a particularly difficult or beautiful section. In this way we checked out 100 miles of the coming Baja 500. This freedom is long gone from rallying. And how wonderful to have this still here in the SCORE championship.

Incidentally, close to Mike's Sky Ranch are a couple of tricky stretches of water that we tackled at various speeds - from slow wading to 80 kph. That worked well. The other extreme is the "Silk" - that's powdery dust (like in Africa) which is between 20 and 80 cm deep. You drive through this stuff like through deep water. The traction is practically zero and if you lose your momentum here then you're in the proverbial you-know-what!

Talking about dust, our television producer Norman Adelhutte experienced the tests up close. He sat in a four-seater racing buggy with his crew and they all got a lung-full of dust. But the rewards for their adventurous efforts is television footage that I have never seen before. Norman not only profits from his immense TV experience but also because he's crazy enough to bomb along through the desert with us.

By the time this newsletter goes online, I'll already be in Buenos Aires at the Rally Argentina where our Red Bull Team junior Andreas Aigner competes from 3-6 May. And as RTL expert I'll be reporting on the fourth round fight between Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and their rivals. I'm really looking forward to this and can hardly wait for the Super Special Stage for spectators in the huge soccer stadium.

I'll get back to you in ten days with how things went in Argentina and also with news of our preparations for the 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 - which incidentally already has 400 entries in 34 classes! That is going to be a party!

VW in MX

"In an effort to promote Volkswagen’s diesel technology in the U.S, Volkswagen Motorsports has decided to enter their 285 hp Volkswagen Touareg 2 desert rally-car into the 2007 SCORE Baja 500. They will be racing two Volkswagen Motorsports rally-cars powered by the ever powerful and fuel efficient line of Volkswagen TDI diesel engines. These race vehicles are the exact same ones used to race the 2007 Dakar Ralley. The vehicles have been imported from Europe into the U.S., and will be race ready come the Baja 500.

The drivers of record will be Baja 500 and Baja 1000 winner Mark Miller, who is now involved with the Volkswagen Motorsports Dakar Ralley program. Miller will be joined by co-driver Ralph Pitchford from South Africa. In another Toureg 2 rally-car will be Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany).

SCORE International has made the exception for these impressive rally cars to come into Baja and race along the sides of the unlimited SCORE Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars. The Volkswagen Touaregs will be starting after the Trophy Trucks, and before Class 1.

Two Race-Touareg will also participate at the Transiberico-Rally in Portugal, the first round of the FIA Marathonrally Worldcup. The driver-pairings are not announced yet, but experts are talking about Carlos Sousa (Portugal) and Carlos Sainz (Spain)."

The Original Baja Racing News Headline:

Volkswagen sends factory team to Baja 500

" For the first time in race history, Volkswagen of America officially entered two of its Dakar Rally factory teams. Driven by American Mark Miller and South African Giniel De Vilers, the two turbo-diesel VW Taureg midsize Sport Utility Vehicles will compete in a special SCORE Int’l Truck class." 



BAJA RACING ENTRIES B500 '07, B1000 '08