Armin Schwarz newsletter 2008-08-15

Newsletter 15 August: Do it again, Armin! And: Desert Navigation A letter from Italy and: Desert Racing with GPS Hi everybody, Please read today a letter by Sergio Remondino, renowned Italian motor journalist and book author. Then I would...

Newsletter 15 August: Do it again, Armin! And: Desert Navigation

A letter from Italy and: Desert Racing with GPS

Hi everybody,

Please read today a letter by Sergio Remondino, renowned Italian motor journalist and book author. Then I would like to tell you about how we navigate our 640hp buggy through the desert. Have fun!

Sergio Remondino, Autosprint+Rallysprint Magazine, Italy: Try it again, Armin!

All Italian fans love Armin Schwarz for his naturalness, for his acrobatic driving style, for his big accidents too ... The Italians love his spectacular driving, we consider Armin a very latin driver despite his light blue eyes and his fair hair. During his long career, Armin has always had a big following in Italy and I think that many people in my country would have been happy to see him in a Lancia-Martini works car. But we have a lot of very good tarmac drivers in Italy, too. And Armin is considered faster on this surface than on gravel.

Sergio Remondino, Autosprint and Rallysprint magazine, Italy

In any case, we all applauded his first win in the World Championship, 1991 with a Toyota Celica in Spain. It came after a good third place in Australia. And Armin would continue to perform at a very high levels, with Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Skoda, Hyundai.

But the core question is and remains, what Armin stands for and represents in the sport. And, I repeat, he is one of most loved drivers amongst the Italian people. Communicativity is not a common quality, on the contrary, it is rare. And Armin has a lot of it.

Now, for him there's the new challenge of Baja races in North America with that exotic prototype which resembles a bug. Honestly, I think that is a great idea, c ompletely in Armin Schwarz's life style. But I think also that it was a little bit too early losing Armin for traditional rallies. Yes, he is 45 years old (16th July, best wishes!), but I think he still can do a very good job. For example at the wheel of Super2000 cars.

Try it again, Armin!

All the best,


Navigation: Racing through the desert with the help of satellites and a dump can

It is always an exciting moment to get a taste of the adventure awaiting us when we at All German Motorsports download the organisers‘ route for the next race.

What we see is a map of the desert with a coloured line running through. This line marks the route - roughly. Then we sit there together: "Do you remember? That's where it went steep down into the small gully. You had to go left past the huge boulders. Otherwise you didn't have a chance to get out again." Much of it is familiar, much is new.

The map shows several GPS points for our orientation. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, a satellite-guided navigational assistance. Every car has a GPS sender and receiver. The satellites track our position and pass it on to our GPS equipment and to the organiser's. In this way, we and everyone from the organiser to our mechanics always knows precisely where we are tormenting ourselves and the Buggy in the endless desert.

Several of these GPS points are check points where we must stop briefly. Up until 2006 it was still different at some races. At the Baja 250 and the Baja 500 we had to carry a small aluminium can fixed to our Buggy, called a Dump Can. The officials at the check points threw a piece of paper with their stamp and signature into the dump can. At the finish it was made sure you had all the "papers" in your dump can. It's a pity that this wonderful old-fashioned ceremony has disappeared.

Here the navigation has to be very precise in order to be fast

At the other GPS points we simply have to drive past within a distance of up to circa 200 metres from the respective point. Within this tolerance we are free to choose the fastest route. Only during the pre-run shortly before the race do we decide which track we will actually take. The co-driver then marks our chosen route in the electronic map with a brightly coloured line.

The cockpit with the big GPS screen right besides the rev counter

Our own route on the electronic sketch is so exact that my navigator can tell me via intercom what kind of corner we're approaching. Additionally, the organiser marks ‘Way Points' on the map. These are dangerous places like deep holes, crests, washaways. But the organisers don't make us nervous putting too many way points in the map. In desert racing one rule applies: "If you wanna compete here you should know what you're doing." This is a great attitude - especially these days where European racing tends to be overregulated.

The navigator sees the map on a large monitor that is attached in the shade of the dashboard. We use monitors from offshore racing boats. They are dust and waterproof. And they can withstand quite a shake up.

We take our screens from offshore racing. They survive almost anything

I think it's easy to read between the lines: I can't wait to get going for the next SCORE race. On 5-6 September we contest the SCORE Terrible's Primm 300, where we still have a little score to settle. In 2007 I drove the first stint and at half distance led the class by four minutes. Matthias Kahle took over but had to take it easy. We finished fourth in our class.

When the night falls perfect navigation is even more crucial

But before the trip over the Atlantic things are hotting up at home: The World Rally Championship visits Germany. Major TV station, RTL, broadcasts this WRC round this coming weekend. As a former WRC regular I'm providing back up to the TV specialists and comment the action.

After nine of 15 WRC rounds, Finland's Mikko Hirvonen leads the championship one point ahead of Sebastien Loeb, with Chris Atkinson close behind the two. In Germany Mikko will have to prove how fast he is on asphalt against Sebastien, after the Frenchman beat him on his home turf in Finland.

It won't be easy for Mikko to keep his title hopes alive, especially looking at the WRC calendar. After Germany comes the New Zealand Rally, followed by Corsica and Spain. That's three asphalt events (Germany, Corsica, Spain), and only one on gravel, where Mikko feels naturally at home ... in any case I'm looking forward to the on-going right of these two world class rally drivers.

At the end of August I'll be back with my comments from the New Zealand Rally and with a preview of the Primm 300.

Until then, best regards,
    Armin Schwarz

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About this article
Series Cross-Country Rally , Score
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Armin Schwarz , Mikko Hirvonen , Chris Atkinson , Matthias Kahle