The answer: the Volkswagen Baja Race Touareg with a V12 TDI engine The surprising success achieved with the "Dakar" Touareg sparked an ambitious programme by Volkswagen of America specifically geared to the Baja rallies. In close collaboration with the team of Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero an innovative prototype for the Trophy Truck class was created. For the first time, an automobile manufacturer dares to tackle this class with diesel technology. The rear-wheel driven Baja Touareg TDI’s power of more than 550 PS is supplied by a 5.5-litre V12 diesel engine from the Volkswagen Group. The efficient and fuel-saving TDI engine, together with a gearbox operated by steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, promises to develop its power in a clearly better, and thus tyre-saving, way than spark-injection engines do. Whereas the fuel tank capacity of the petrol-powered vehicles is unlimited and typically designed to handle 120 to 130 gallons, the diesel vehicles must settle for 65 U.S. gallons (246 litres). The chassis, with a tubular frame and a rigid rear axle with an enormous suspension travel of 75 centimetres, follows the typical principles of Trophy Trucks. The Baja Touareg TDI is prepared and fielded by Arciero-Miller-Racing in the USA; the engine is prepared in Germany. Visually, the Baja Touareg TDI will resemble the production vehicle. However, in all of its proportions the prototype is slightly ten per cent bigger than its production role model; it is practically an XL-sized Touareg. Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero are two proven experts in the cockpit. Both have won several Baja 1000 and Baja 500 competitions as well as off-road titles in the USA. 46-year-old Mark Miller from Phoenix / Arizona is navigated by 34-year-old Willie Valdez jr. from Los Angeles. Ryan Arciero hails from Los Angeles and is 35 years old. He comes from a family that has been active in racing for over 50 years and for whose teams the likes of Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Michael Andretti and other well-known names have driven. Arciero’s co-driver is 32-year-old Benny Metcalf jr. from San Clemente/California. The decision about the time and place for the driver change will be taken after the track inspection and strategy planning. Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and Clark Campbell, Motorsport Manager of Volkswagen of America, agree about the objective," At the Volkswagen Touareg TDI’s maiden race we want to master the route of the Baja 1000 and reach the finish. At such a tough and unusual event this would be a first success and a promising starting base for the first full off-road season in 2009."
VW launched into another class of Baja today as it released it's Touareg Baja Racer at the LA Auto Show . Racing along the same 630 miles of desert peninsula as the ever popular Baja Bug class , this Trophy Truck packs a 542 HP 5.5 liter V12 turbodiesel powerhouse motivating only the rear wheels to kick up some thick, dusty awesome. A tubular chassis only retains the visual dimensions of a Touareg - It's actually 10% larger than the production model. Full press release below the jump.
Check out more on the Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI from CarandDriver.com