Baja 1000: It's going to be tough ... and it's going to be great! Dear Friends, partners and sponsors, We are rapidly approaching the highlight of the year. On 21 November the flag drops for the 41st Baja 1000 in Ensenada on the Mexican ...
Baja 1000: It's going to be tough ... and it's going to be great!
Dear Friends, partners and sponsors, We are rapidly approaching the highlight of the year. On 21 November the flag drops for the 41st Baja 1000 in Ensenada on the Mexican Pacific coast. We at All German Motorsports have a big goal. We want to take the overall win. And we still have the chance to win our class championship. The feeling is almost the same as trying to climb Mt Everest with our Buggy - at express tempo.
Desert racing: the Baja 1000 is the "Mount Everest", and we want to climb it at express speed!
I left home on the 13th November and headed for the west coast of the USA to make my way down to Escondido in southern California to the All German Motorsports headquarters. We then went straight out into the desert to do the pre-run. From 14 to 18 November, Martin Christensen and I will recce our respective routes with our co-drivers. 630 miles - that's 1000 kilometres of sand, deep dust, rocks, water crossings. My navigator, Bryan Little, and I will write pace notes for the more tricky stretches, just to make sure we are fast and safe. On the open sections I'll be hammering it.
Things get serious early on 21 November. The start in Ensenada will be a huge festival, from 10.30 am the four wheel vehicles head off. Martin and I have drawn the starting number 107. That means we are the seventh Buggy to take off. And in front of them we have 30 Trophy Trucks thundering through the desert, ahead of us, with 200hp more than our 640 hp. So we have to overtake them to get to the front - in thick dust with almost zero viz. Well, optimism is part of our business!
Before the start I have a good look at the competition: how well are they prepared?
Before the start I check out the competition. How are the drivers looking? How are they prepared technically? I'll have a real good look at number 102. B.J. Richardson sits in this Buggy. He's currently leading the Buggy Class 1 classification. As driver of the first stint, I'll have to overtake B.J. as quickly as possible - which won't be easy because the guys who contest the SCORE stuff are not exactly easy pickings.
My stint runs over 500 km. That's seven or eight hours of tough slog at the wheel in scorching temperatures if last year is anything to go by. The first 60 km are chaotic. Everyone roars off like crazed bulls. There are many junctions, and masses of fans along the way. You've got to have eyes everywhere. With all that dust it's hard to know if there's just one car in front of you or maybe more. Which reminds me of something my old friend and rally photographer, Reinhard Klein, used to say: "If you can't see it then there's nothing there." Okay, he works with his eyes and should know. So we just go for it!
Rolling up to the start: Very soon we are going to take off. From the town of Ojos Negros the terrain opens up. We can make a lot of time here, sometimes if I catch up to two fighting for positions I can pass both at once. They don't notice me until I pull alongside.
It's hard to see anything behind you so you have to keep your ears open, too. Or listen to the radio. Our boys out on the track - there are around 80 people working for AGM - tell us when a competitor is behind us in striking distance.
And then, after all the fighting and driving and excitement, Bryan and I will reach the pits in the middle of nowhere, we'll leap out of the Buggy. Martin and his navigator Greg will jump in and rocket away from the pits to do their stint - that's another 500 kilometres. And in that night we will know if we've scaled our Mt Everest in the middle of Mexico's hot desert.
In my next newsletter I'll tell you how it was in the cockpit of the Buggy at the Baja 1000.
Wish me luck