While the SSV category has only been running for four years in the Dakar Rally, it has quickly become a favorite, attracting competitors from all over the world to compete for the win in their favored brand of UTV. While a privateer runner in a Polaris won the class in its first year, 2017, the victory has gone to Can Am ever since. This year Polaris hopes to bring the cup back to Minnesota with a factory-backed three-RZR team. Polaris RZR Factory Racing has taken numerous victories in races here in North America, but this will be the first time the factory team has competed at Dakar.
A trio of RZR Pro XP will be kitted and outfitted to tackle the desert terrains of Saudi Arabia in January of next year. Each will be driven by off-road legend Craig Scanlon, as well as husband-and-wife team Wayne and Kristen Matlock.
Kristen has seven Baja championship titles to her name, and will be representing Polaris’ new Empowersports Women’s Riding Council in the Dakar. Which is a particularly cool thing, considering the event is held in Saudi Arabia, not particularly known for empowering women.
Wayne is RZR Racing’s most decorated driver in Baja with 20 years of racing experience, three Baja 500 UTV class wins, and two Baja 1000 UTV class wins. He is also the current SCORE UTV season champion.
Craig Scanlon started the Polaris RZR Racing program a bit over a decade ago and is returning to the fold for this Dakar effort. Scanlon is the 2019 Baja 500 Pro class champion, among hundreds of other credits to his name, so keep an eye on this one as a Dakar contender.
None of these three drivers has ever competed at Dakar before, so it will be a new undertaking for not only the Polaris factory effort, but for all of the people involved as well.