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Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Specs - Giant Slayer

Volkswagen's Newest Diesel-Powered Race Truck

David Kennedy
Oct 15, 2007
Photographers: David Kennedy, Courtesy of Volkswagen
Photo 2/14   |   volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Specs front View
In the off-road-racing world, there has always been a dispute about what the most difficult race is. Americans proudly claim the Baja 1000 as the most grueling test of man and machine. Europeans counter that the Baja is only 1,000 miles-a quick sprint compared with the two-week-long Dakar Rally that covers 5,400 miles. Over the years, a few racers have run both, but the war wages on over which race is the toughest test and whose vehicles are more capable.
Depending on how you look at it, Volkswagen's diesel-powered Dakar Touareg's success at this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 off-road race either stokes the debate or proves your point. There's no question that VW displayed a very impressive effort. We can only hope this is just the beginning of VW's intercontinental off-road diesel racing program.
On Race Day
This year marked the 39th running of the Baja 500. The race began and ended in Ensenada, Mexico, on the baja peninsula. Volkswagen's two-vehicle team was headed up by American Baja 500 race winner, Mark Miller, who set the pace for his South African teammate, Giniel de Villers, who was driving a second Race Touareg. According to Miller, this year's course "was the toughest, most brutal route I've ever driven in a Baja 500. The course was very difficult, and you can't believe the abuse this [Touareg] took. I can't believe I can even stand up right now. It's the roughest thing this vehicle has ever endured."
Miller's Touareg crossed the finish line after 10 hours and 38 seconds of nonstop racing over the worst dirt roads and rocky courses that Mexico's baja peninsula has to offer. De Villers' Touareg came in a few minutes later with a finishing time of 10:18:44. Almost 500 competitors in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and ATVs entered the race, but this year's difficult 420.11-mile course saw only 283 competitors (57 percent of all participants) finish within the 20-hour time limit. The two Touaregs pulled off impressive 11th and 18th Place finishes against dozens of vehicles specially built for North American off-road racing.
Clearly, the Race Touaregs were likely helped by the efficiency of the 2.5L, inline-five-cylinder, dual-turbo TDI engine because they were the only two vehicles that didn't have to refuel during the entire race. Additionally, it was reported that the Touaregs suffered no mechanical problems and made limited pit stops along the course to take on fresh tires.
What it's like to ride in
No, we didn't get to drive it, but the Race Touareg 2 is the most exotic race vehicle we've ever been in. The passenger side of the race truck was snug but not cramped. Every surface we touched was carbon fiber, and there were enough switches, navigation equipment, and electronics to make a fighter pilot feel at home. Just like in a aircraft, the driver and passenger communicate with each other through a two-way intercom system that's built into the open-face helmets. This same radio system allows the vehicle to stay in touch with support vehicles, pit crews, and even the team's helicopter.
Once we were strapped into the Recaro race seat, Miller took us out for a test run to familiarize us with the vehicle's capabilities. In a word, the Race Touaregs are amazing. Compared with a 1-ton diesel pickup, these machines were light, nimble, and quick-think Ferrari and Jeep with a big helping of diesel power tossed in. Miller had the truck up to speed and in a four-wheel drift down a dirt road before we could even ask about the vehicle. From inside the enclosed cockpit, the race truck felt surprisingly civilized (it's street-legal, after all), and the GPS told us we were traveling much quicker than we would have guessed the 2.5L turbodiesel could push us.
Almost immediately, Miller dropped off the graded dirt road we were on and headed out onto part of the Baja 500 racecourse. Downshifting through the gears, we blasted up a loose, rocky, 100-yard hillclimb and built speed as the full-time four-wheel-drive system maintained traction. The Touareg's drivetrain allowed Miller to focus on his line rather than worry about whether we'd make it up the hill at all.
"A Trophy Truck would never do that," Miller said over the intercom. And he should know-he's won the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000 twice in a two-wheel-drive Chevrolet Trophy Truck. He explained that what the VW lacked in brute force and suspension travel it made up for in control and maneuverability. As a passenger, we could feel the Touareg responding to Miller's every command as he manipulated the vehicle's direction, attitude, and sometimes even its altitude with the throttle and brakes. With the inline diesel engine set so far back in the chassis, the truck felt particularly well balanced and stable. Even when we were blasting toward ruts, ditches, and jumps that would've been fatal for many off-road vehicles, the Touareg's suspension and BFGoodrich tires allowed Miller to accelerate in and out of dangerous terrain with ease.
Photo 3/14   |   volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Specs front View 3
Race Touareg 2 Specs
Engine: 2.5L, inline-five-cylinder, 20-valve, TDI diesel
Induction: Two-stage dual turbos with intercooler drawing through a 1.5-inch restrictor (mandated by FIA rules)
Horsepower: 285 (manufacturer's claim)
Torque: 443 lb-ft (manufacturer's claim)
Engine management: Bosch
Transmission: Longitudinally mounted six-speed sequential gearbox
Clutch: Hydraulically operated ZF Sachs three-plate ceramic disc
Drivetrain: Full-time four-wheel drive, three mechanical differentials with viscous locking capability
Suspension (front/rear): Independent double wishbone, dual ZF Sachs shocks with coil springs at each wheel, limited to 9.84 inches of travel
Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion
Brakes: 12.6-inch vented rotors with aluminum six-piston calipers
Wheels: 16x7.2-inch BBS aluminum
Tires: BFGoodrich 235/85R16 (31x9.25R16)
Chassis: Fabricated steel tube space-frame
Bodywork: Two-door carbon-fiber composite

Length: 164 inches
Width: 78.6 inches
Height: 69.4 inches
Track width (front/rear): 68.9 inches
Wheelbase: 111 inches
Minimum weight: 3,940 pounds
Photo 4/14   |   In American off-road racing, faster vehicles will sometimes bump the rear of slower vehicles to let them know they want to pass.
Perhaps the Touareg's most impressive feature is its uncanny ability to react to the driver's input at all times. Keep in mind that when most off-road race vehicles travel over loose dirt and rock surfaces, the driver has only marginal influence on the vehicle's direction when at speed. Typically, a driver must rely on his vehicle's 37-inch-tall tires and nearly 3 feet of suspension travel to absorb the punishment of driving over surfaces most of us would liken to a bombing range at 100 mph.
With less than 10 inches of suspension travel and only 31-inch tires, we could tell Miller was earning his keep in the driver seat. All we could do was sit there and try not to squeal like an excited little kid. Miller, on the other hand, must've made 1,000 brake, throttle, and transmission inputs to keep the Touareg on track during our brief drive. There were turns in the course that we never thought he'd be able to take at the speeds we were traveling, but then he would. There were dry streambeds he'd rocket toward, then slow to less than 10 mph for, and then be back up to pace before we could compliment the VW's braking ability. Considering how rough the terrain is in Baja, the Touareg handled the pounding Miller put it through very well. There were a number of times the VW got all four tires in the air and our helmet hit the inside of the rollcage upon reentry. We have no doubt the VW team's strategy counts heavily on the fact that these trucks are capable of taking more of a beating than most drivers ever could. And that's why Miller is as much an athlete as he is a racer. We didn't even bother to ask if we could ride in the truck during a race-we knew we wouldn't have the stamina to keep up with these vehicles.
Photo 5/14   |   chevy Sb2 Nascar front View
American Off-Road Race Trucks
There's no question, when it comes to American off-road racing, the SCORE International Trophy Trucks are top of the line. Trophy Trucks are loosely based on fullsize pickups and SUVs the way NHRA Funny Cars are based on your average American two-door coupe-meaning, the only things production on these 800hp, gasoline-powered warriors are the manufacturer logos. Other meaningful rules worth noting in this class are that Trophy Trucks must weigh a minimum of 3,500 pounds and the engine brand and body style must match. Oh yeah, and you can't have a turbocharged or supercharged engine, which is why the turbodiesel Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 trucks had to run in their own International class at the Baja 500. Other than that, your multimillion-dollar team budget and imagination are the only limits.
NASCAR driver Robby Gordon is the quintessential Trophy Truck driver. His latest chromoly tube-chassis Chevy Silverado uses a 400-plus-ci, fuel-injected, SB2 NASCAR Chevrolet V-8 that's mounted behind the driver and rotated 180 degrees to send power forward through a TH400 three-speed automatic transmission. From the transmission, a driveshaft sends power through a Casale V-drive from a marine application that redirects the power back to the 37-inch rear tires through an offset differential on the driver side.
Photo 6/14   |   volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Specs night View
What's Next
The official word from Volkswagen is the Dakar Race Touareg 2s will not be back for the November Baja 1000. The Mexico race simply falls too close to the January start of the Dakar. It seems unlikely that, after such a successful first showing at the Baja 500 and Volkswagen's sponsorship of SCORE International, this is the last we've seen of VW's off-road race program. We have no hard facts to share, but our speculation is a Touareg Trophy Truck or Class 1 vehicle powered by a production-based V-10 TDI diesel engine might be in the works. There is also a remote possibility VW could return to Baja in a production-based Touareg to run in one of the two stock classes. The telltale sign may be revealed by whatever VW brings out to run at this year's Pikes Peak hillclimb. We'll keep you posted.


Herndon, VA 20171
Score International
Calabasas, CA 91302



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