After in excess of 1,000 kilometers (634 miles) through some of the roughest environment imaginable, Volkswagen's latest designed Baja Race Touareg TDI prototype victoriously rolled over the finish line in Ensenda, Mexico piloted by seasoned drivers Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero.
In the long 41-year history of the Baja 1000, it is the first time ever that a vehicle with ground-breaking clean diesel technology successfully participated in the challenging and brutally competitive high performance trophy truck class in the Baja 1000.
The Baja Race Touareg TDI discovered a faulty seal on the gearbox in the middle of the race that caused the unwanted replacement of the whole gearbox creating a great loss of time for the team.
After a grueling race that spanned more than 1,000 kilometers, roughly 634 miles, Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero emerged to take the 13th place in the 2009 Baja Race. Piloting a Baja Race Touareg TDI prototype, the two pilots navigated the tough terrains in Ensanda, Mexico but still did not manage to secure a win with the new Touareg prototype.
Despite the loss, it was still a milestone for Volkswagen Motorsport. This was the first time that a clean diesel vehicle made it to the end of the race without breaking down. The high-performance trophy truck class in the Baja 1000 is highly competitive and it was a feather in Volkswagen Motorsport’s cap that the prototype did finish the event.
Both Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, and pilot Mark Miller had nothing but praise for the Touareg TDI. Nissen said that they had not been very optimistic about their expectations, given the prototype status of the vehicle, and simply aimed to finish in the vehicle’s Baja 1000 debut. Miller, on the other hand, said during an interview after reaching the finish line that, even though they lost, the clean TDI technology showed excellent promise.
The 2009 Baja 1000 was a learning experience for the team. The major amount of time lost by the team was because of a defective gearbox seal. The defect was a big surprise to the entire team, Arciero Miller Racing’s Project Manager, Don Tebbe, said. It was ultimately something that everyone learned from, as it was such a simple defect but ate up a lot of critical time for AMR-Volkswagen tandem.
However, Tebbe promised that they were working with Volkswagen to come up with an improved version of the gearbox seal to prevent a similar mishap from occurring in the team’s next Baja 1000 participation. Miller and AMR fielded a Touareg TDI Trophy Truck for the race, which was the 41st Baja 1000 desert race.
The car carried a monstrous 5.5-liter V12 clean diesel engine. The engine gave out a powerful output of 550 HP, and a corresponding torque of 625 lbs.-ft. The truck was especially built and engineered for the tough desert race, conditions of which were taxing to all the participants involved.
The design called for a double A-Arm front suspension. With this, wheel travel for the TDI prototype was at 25 inches. This was paired up with a 4-link rear suspension, giving the prototype an additional 30 inches of wheel travel. Other features included Fox Racing Shocks and Eibach Coils.
The Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck also featured BF Goodrich Baja KRT 37x13.5x17 off-road tires. All of these, of course, made for optimal handling in the difficult terrain of the Baja 1000 race course. While working in tandem with Volkswagen, Arciero Miller Racing handled the responsibilities of designing the chassis and the final production.
This was facilitated in Foothill Ranch, California. The final product was a vehicle with a 125-inch wheelbase, 213 inches of length and a body that’s 92 inches wide. The trophy truck weighed 5650 pounds, and stood at 78 inches. Additional designing for the body was handled by the Volkswagen Design Center.