We took a pretty in-depth look at the first-ever turbocharged oil-burning machine to compete in the Trophy Truck class of the famed Baja 1000 race while we were at the LA Auto Show. The machine itself was a Touareg in name only and is an extremely impressive piece of kit in person. Still, while it had cutting-edge technology and a massive clean-diesel V12 engine putting out 550 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, the truck was going up against a field of equally impressive (though likely much less efficient) entries, so it had its work cut out for it. Of course, the ultimate goal was surely to win the event, but even Volkswagen's most arduous internal fans of the project must have realized that just finishing the 634-mile event would be a major accomplishment. Finish they did, managing to score a 13th position in the process. That finish may have been better if a defective seal hadn't necessitated a replacement of the entire gearbox partway through the race.
As we've said before, there's nothing green about racing a 5,650-pound behemoth like this Trophy Truck through the Baja desert. There is no denying, though, that the lessons learned from racing programs such as this often go a long way towards improving the vehicles that we as consumers will be driving in the coming years. In fact, Honda - often cited as the efficiency leader in the automotive realm - has been continually refining its designs through its racing programs since the company's founding many years ago. Diesel racing is still in its infancy when compared to its gasoline counterpart, though the increasingly important efficiency equation is slowly but surely changing that fact.
Gallery: LA 2008: Race Touareg 2
Photos Copyright ©2008 Jeremy Korzeniewski and Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.
Volkswagen-Red Bull Touareg TDI Trophy Truck Claims 13th Position for Trophy Truck Class in its Inaugural Baja 1000
ENSENADA, Mexico, Nov. 23, 2008 -- After more than 1,000 kilometers (634 miles) through some of the toughest terrain imaginable, Volkswagen's newly developed Baja Race Touareg TDI prototype successfully crossed the finish line in Ensenada, Mexico driven by veteran drivers Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero.
For the first time in the 41-year history of the Baja 1000, a vehicle with innovative clean diesel technology successfully competed in the demanding and fiercely competitive high performance trophy truck class in the Baja 1000.
"Our aim for our first Baja 1000 was to finish the event with our all-new Touareg TDI - and we managed to do that. That's why we're really satisfied," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "It was the toughest Baja I've ever driven, the track simply was mercilessly rough," commented Mark Miller, a multiple Baja winner, after arriving at the finish early Saturday morning (November 22, 2008). "At our very first running we immediately showed that the Touareg and the clean TDI technology are a powerful package."
The Baja Race Touareg TDI experienced a defective seal on the gearbox during the race that led to the necessary replacement of the entire gearbox causing a major time loss for the team. "Ultimately, a simple seal had an enormous effect with a big loss of time. This defect surprised us because it had never occurred before," said Don Tebbe, Project Manager for the Arciero Miller Racing (AMR) team which, in close collaboration with Volkswagen Motorsport, is responsible for the development and fielding of the Baja Touareg. "Shortly before the finish we also exchanged the rear differential just to be on the safe side. From tests we knew that this part might possibly be at the limit. Work on an improved version is already in progress," Tebbe added.
The Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck that ran the 41st Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race in the SCORE Trophy Truck class was powered by a 5.5 liter V-12 clean diesel engine that produces 550 horsepower and 625 lbs.-ft. of torque.
Staying true to the off-road prowess that the Touareg is best known for, the purpose-built Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck takes the Touareg's off-road tenaciousness to a whole new level. With a double A-Arm front suspension that allows 25 inches of wheel travel, and a 4-link rear suspension that allows 30 inches of wheel travel, combined with Fox Racing Shocks, Eibach Coils and BFGoodrich Baja KRT 37x13.5x17 off-road tires the Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck had little difficulty maneuvering the highly difficult and technical 634 mile Baja 1000 course.
Chassis design and production was handled by Arciero Miller Racing located in Foothill Ranch, California. The Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck features a wheelbase of 125 inches, overall length of 213 inches, width of 92 inches, an overall height of 78 inches and weighs 5650 pounds. The Race Touareg TDI Trophy Truck Body was designed by the Volkswagen Design Center located in Santa Monica, California.
The Volkswagen-Red Bull Baja Race Touareg TDI was sponsored by Volkswagen of America, Inc., Red Bull, BFGoodrich Tires, Dow Automotive, Oakley, KMC Wheels and Fox Shocks.