The SSV class at the 2021 running of the Dakar Rally is in for an all-American assault with the Polaris-supported entries of Craig Scanlon, Wayne Matlock, and Kristen Matlock. A trio of RZR Pro XPs will blast across the Saudi desert. This is the first time the company has provided factory support for the Dakar event, and this is the first time each of the drivers will have competed in the Dakar. At least they’ll be in familiar equipment.
Based on a “stock” RZR Pro XP race buggy, there are a number of factory carry-over parts on this racing machine. The Polaris Pro Star engine, intercooler, turbocharger, transmission, hubs, brake calipers, and more are direct-from-the-factory parts. These race-ready machines will also maintain the stock Pro XP’s 96-inch wheelbase. Interestingly, however, the base chassis used for the race machines is actually built by Jimco rather than Polaris, based on stock dimensions but upgraded for the rigors of almost a month straight of racing.
It makes sense to stick with the stock drivetrain, as the race is grueling and demands the reliability of understressed components. The 925cc turbocharged parallel twin engine makes 181 horsepower in stock form, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see these race buggies slightly detuned to keep everything together and happy. It still has a top speed of 81 miles per hour at flat chat, which is probably faster than most places on the Dakar would deem smart.
The race machine’s suspension has been upgraded with a set of Fox Racing remote reservoir shocks and an additional 1.5 inches of travel compared to stock. This setup is overkill for most RZR owners, but provides the cooling and adjustability that the Dakar team will need.
The rest of the formula is pretty standard fare. You’ve got Sparco safety equipment inside. A lightweight lithium Braille battery keeps the power to the electronics. 15-inch beadlock Method Race Wheels are wrapped in 30-inch BF Goodrich tires.
The 5,000 mile race kicks off in just over a month and a half, so the newbies at Polaris still have a lot of work to do to get ready for this incredible event. It’ll be interesting to see how a first-time team does with a trio of first-time drivers in a first-time vehicle. Sounds like they’ve built these buggies correctly to tackle the rally, but the desert doesn’t just let you win. It’ll still be a super tight fight, and I look forward to the outcome.