Off-road racing reaches its pinnacle this week as Mexico prepares to host the 2015 edition of the Baja 1000.
Buggies, motorcycles, trucks, ATVs and custom models will be among the wide assortment of vehicles duking it out for supremacy in one of the biggest motorsports events known to man.
This year's competition will see drivers and riders return to the loop format after 2014's point-to-point race, a format that has historically produced quicker finishing times.
Last year's event proved to be one of the longest in the Baja 1000's 48-year history; the fastest car team topped the 22-hour mark for just the fourth time in history, while the quickest motorcycle team produced the third-slowest time in that format's history.
Thrills and spills are a given, but there's so much more to look forward to in one of the most unpredictable races of the year. Read on for a full schedule and course information for the Baja 1000 2015.
|Baja 1000 2015 Schedule|
|Thursday, November 19||12 p.m. - 5 p.m.||Racer Registration|
|Friday, November 20||9 a.m.||Race Start (Pro Motorcycles)|
|Friday, November 20||2 p.m.||Race Start (Trucks and Cars)|
|Saturday, November 21||N/A||Finish/Course Closes|
A great deal of appeal in the Baja 1000 stems from the fact that there's something for everyone, whether it's the sheer stature of the trophy truck class or the individuality of the motorcycle medley.
Regardless of their mode of transport, though, the 840-mile course is a gruelling test for drivers and riders alike, setting off from Ensenada southbound down the Baja California peninsula coast before looping back to the finish.
Two-time champion BJ Baldwin was the last driver to win the race in its loop-track format in 2013, topping the trophy truck times in 20 hours and 59 seconds with his Chevrolet TT, which matched his winning time of 2012.
However, Justin Matney topped the qualification times and starts at the top of the grid this year with a newly designed 4x4 Geiser, which is making waves in the industry of late. Speaking to Dan Sanchez of Trucking Times, Matney said: "This truck is a totally new creation. We all knew that four-wheel drive was the future of off-road racing, but we're still learning with it."
Sanchez explained in his report that a prototype design makes Matney's entry more prepared for desert competition, something 4x4 trucks have struggled with in the past.
Starting third on the trophy truck grid comes Bryce Menzies, and the Red Bull athlete recently gave fans some insight into his preparation for the Baja 1000:
Unfortunately for racing fans, last year's motorcycle class victor, Ricky Brabec, will not return to Mexico to defend his title, leaving that side of the competition open to more challengers.
Brabec, whose 2014 triumph with Kawasaki was his first ever at the Baja 1000, explained the decision via his official Facebook account:
It's far from being just about the most well-known top gun at the Baja 1000, though, and any upstart can emerge from the pack to take their class victory or, better yet, challenge for the overall prize.
The trophy trucks and the motorcycles will take centre stage in the Mexican desert, but blink and you risk missing part of the drama set to unfold over a period of 20 hours or more, depending on the conditions.