Ensenada, B.C., Mexico — Ask anyone who has raced on the Baja peninsula and they will tell you it’s brutal. Silt, high-speed desert crossings, technical rocky trails, washes, ditches and drop-offs are just some of the hazards that make Baja a strenuous test. Add this year’s triple digit heat and the feat becomes sadistic. This year’s Baja 500 took its toll on both cars and drivers.
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Even for the best prepared Trophy Truck teams, Baja is unforgiving. Those who challenge the Baja 500 without the luxury of a Trophy Truck are truly courageous. This year, the 1949 entry of Alonso Lopez tackled the loop from Ensenada to San Felipe and back in the Pro UTV Class. For Lopez and many UTV racers, making it through an entire race with a stock High/Low/4WD RZR gearbox is a challenge. Stock RZR gears are mass produced and crack when subjected to extreme racing conditions. For the Baja 500, Lopez and Ensenada trans engineer Federico Montes contacted extreme-duty gear specialists Weddle Industries.
Weddle Race Prep. Weddle Industries took extra steps to get the stock RZR gears ready for the Baja 500. First, critical areas of the gear teeth were hand ground to help relieve areas prone to stress fractures. Next, the gears were shotpeened, a process that makes gears more durable by relieving surface tension on the gear surface left over from initial manufacturing. Finally, all components are REM Superfinished to remove surface imperfections. This process reduces friction and heat as well as improves shift performance. REM also prevents “wear” material that is shed into the oil causing increased wear on critical bearings.
The Pay Off. Lopez ran into a little bad luck. Right before the start of the race, Lopez and his team discovered the front and rear drivelines had been bent leaving the vehicle without 4WD. This meant extra duty on the gearbox. After 500 miles in the brutal heat, not only did the stock RZR gears finish the race, but Lopez went on to win the Pro UTV class at this year’s Baja 500. Way to go, Alonso.
Questions? Call us 805 562 8600 or email us.
Photos courtesy of Alonso Lopez