Video: Ernie Vigil desert racing on Triumph Scrambler 1200

A retro-styled 1200cc Triumph may sound like more of a coffee shop cruiser than an off-road racer, but if you are in any doubt that the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE has serious capabilities on the loose stuff watch this video of Ernie Vigil racing one at the Mexican 1000.

Vigil finished in an impressive 5th place in class, and 17th overall at the NORRA Mexican 1000, after starting the final day in 6th on his near-standard Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE.

A positive third day saw the American rider move up to 8th place in the Modern Open bike class having finished day two in 12th after picking up a 54-minute penalty.

Finishing the 1349-mile race is impressive enough, but considering the competition was riding a mixture of dedicated off road racers including several Honda XR650Rs, 5th place on a near-standard road bike is a real accomplishment.  

The experienced off-road racer and stunt pilot was due to take the Scrambler to Mexico in November 2018 for the legendary Baja 1000 endurance race, but a training injury meant that he was unable to compete.

This isn’t Vigil’s first Mexican 1000 riding a Triumph as he has completed the race previously on a Triumph Tiger 800, but it will be the first race for the Scrambler 1200 XE, which has been modified slightly with a new seat, lights, grips and paintjob.

Ernie Vigil's Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE desert racer ready for action

“After 9 months of training, the injury and over 6,000 off-road miles in the saddle I’m excited to be getting to the final stage of prep for one of the most challenging off-road races you can do,” said Vigil.

“I literally can’t wait to get to that starting line and fire the Scrambler up! The bike has been performing amazingly well and I’m raring to go.”

Paul Stroud, Triumph’s Chief Commercial Officer said: “Everyone at Triumph is rooting for Ernie, his commitment to returning to race fitness following his injury has been amazing and we just can’t wait to see the Scrambler 1200 in action.

“Baja desert racing has played such a big part in the history of scrambling and it was the spark that kicked off of our whole iconic Scrambler line-up.”

Ernie Vigil sustains training injury

Vigil sustained the serious injury to his ankle that kept him from competing at the Baja 1000 during an off-road training incident. He was riding his own 450 dirt bike at the time of the accident.

Ernie Vigil ankle injury

Speaking on the injury at the time, Ernie said: “While waiting for my Scrambler 1200 to clear customs at LAX, I went on a training ride with my 450 dirt bike for some last minute conditioning.

“Unfortunately I tucked the front wheel when pushing a hard turn. The bike flipped me over, landing on my ankle snapping the bone at both the tibula and fibula. 

“I’m absolutely devastated for the team and the effort they’ve put in in getting the bike over and ready, and also for everyone who supported me in training for this race.

“Fortunately the break was clean and I had a very successful surgery. I’m going to return home to Albuquerque and expect to be laid up for around 4 weeks until I can start my rehabilitation, but I expect to make a full and quick recovery. I can’t wait to get back into training for the Mexican 1000 in April.”

The Baja 1000, part of the World Championship of desert racing, is held in the Californian/Mexican peninsula where motorbikes, cars, trucks, ATVs and buggies take on the same course.

Ernie is a veteran of the Baja 1000 course and rode previously during the Mexican 1000 on a Triumph Tiger 800. We also had the pleasure of his attendance at the 2017 MCN London show, where he put the then new Triumph Street Triple 765 to the test.

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