As a two-time Baja 1000 veteran, Alexander Rossi is not any stranger to off-road racing, however the Dakar Rally nonetheless could be a contemporary begin for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner.
“I’d one hundred pc like to do Dakar at one level … however it’s so totally different from Baja within the sense it’s just like the Tour de France,” Rossi advised NBC Sports activities’ Parker Kilgerman (video of the interview above). “You do phases. You will have relaxation days. Baja is a 19-hour dash, the place Dakar is over (two) weeks. It’s a really totally different sort of race. The autos are extra spec.
“And the opposite factor is the navigation is lots tougher. You’re having to navigate nearly as a sailor would by the celebs in some classes. You don’t have GPS programs. You will have a map. A complete totally different problem, however one which I’d like to do at some point.”
It’s comprehensible why the arid terrain of Saudi Arabia (the situation of the Dakar Rally for the second consecutive 12 months) would beckon for Rossi, who already has had two terribly eventful forays into desert racing in Mexico.
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Within the 2018 Baja 1000, Rossi narrowly averted a head-on collision with a passenger SUV (which had its right-side mirror sheared off in glancing contact). He nonetheless soldiered on to a second-place end in Class 7 (slightly below the trophy truck division) with a Honda Ridgeline owned by Jeff Proctor.
Within the 2019 Baja 1000, Rossi rolled his Ridgeline right into a ditch after misjudging a 90-degree left flip over a hill. After persevering with for an additional 100 miles, Rossi and co-driver Proctor needed to retire from the race due to injury.
Together with his robust ties to Honda presumably offering one other alternative, Rossi appears enamored with a return to Baja, which is “one among a sort and one of many hardest issues I’ve ever participated in on 4 wheels.”
There are three keys to differentiating the open highway from the closed-circuit ovals, highway and avenue programs that Rossi has tamed within the NTT IndyCar Collection.
The primary is “there’s no set course,” Rossi stated. “There are checkpoints you must undergo, however it’s as much as you to search out the perfect route for your self and automobile to get between Checkpoint A and B. So it’s actually as much as your individual analysis that you just do the weeks and months that you just’re down there earlier than the occasion and simply your individual creativity, which is fairly loopy.
“No. 2, the locals are literally concerned in Baja, the place they try to bobby-trap the rivals, they usually’ll arrange pretend course markers and attempt to get you to get in a ditch. However those self same locals are additionally those that can assist you to out of a tough state of affairs (locals helped get better his truck after the 2019 crash).
“No. 3 is although you’re racing over unbelievable terrain. Large boulders, massive hills. You’re leaping a truck. It’s flat out the entire manner. The machines are constructed so effectively, it’s a ten/10ths dash race, even for 1,000 miles.”
Rossi, who will make his third consecutive begin within the Rolex 24 at Daytona this month, is constructing a fame for embracing versatility.
Apart from IndyCar, sports activities vehicles and off highway, he additionally wish to attempt NASCAR’s premier collection — although that objective has been tempered by his 2019 debut within the Virgin Australia Supercars collection. Teaming with IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, their automotive completed 18th of 26 within the prestigious Bathurst 1000.
“I used to be out of my depth,” Rossi stated. “Making an attempt to debut in a V8 Supercar at Bathurst was a hell of a job. Didn’t do an excellent job. So nothing however accolades for these guys over there and what they do. I don’t suppose Cup could be any totally different. That’s an entire totally different world, and also you’ve acquired to have the precise preparation and proper time earlier than you’re going to leap in and do something good.
“Conor Daly and Travis Pastrana did the truck race in Vegas and did a reasonably good job, but when I had been to ever do it, I need to give it the time and respect it deserves.”