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THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE Racing Or Recreation, Polaris Continues To Seek Improvements On The RZR Side-By-Side By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo Within SCORE’s UTV racing classes, Polaris has earned more wins and championships than any other UTV manufacturer. As the “Official UTV Of SCORE,” Polaris and its RZR vehicles are some of the fastest in Baja racing. The reason for this success stems from the company’s continued involvement in off-road racing and partnerships with some of the top racers in the sport. The newest RZR model, the Polaris RZR Pro R, is a culmination of racer input and design advancements that showcase a new design that is larger, faster, more comfortable, and more capable than ever. “The goal of the RZR Pro R is to deliver a product that provides the ultimate riding experience to the consumer, with additional power, strength, and control,” said Bret Carpenter, Polaris Manager of ORV Racing. The RZR Pro R debuted at the 2021 SCORE Baja 1000 with Wayne Matlock driving the vehicle in the SCORE Pro UTV Open class. “With the exception of some safety upgrades required by SCORE, Wayne’s RZR Pro R is the same vehicle that consumers can purchase,” said Carpenter. “Our racers allow the company to learn more after every race. From our experience racing in Baja, our vehicles have improved suspensions, belt durability, and how the vehicle responds to various conditions.” “The Polaris RZR Pro R is something the company has been working on for a long time,” said Wayne Matlock. “It’s mind-blowing how much better these vehicles have become, especially when you compare our last vehicle to this one. Other than safety seats and belts, a racing fuel cell, and a stronger roll-cage, our new RZR Pro R is 100-percent stock.” The move towards making the RZR Pro R the top vehicle in Polaris’ stable included adding a new race vehicle for Kristen Matlock too. She will begin the SCORE 2022 season racing in her own RZR Pro R in the SCORE Pro UTV Open class. “This car is an evolution from racer input,” she said. “Compared to what I started racing with, an 800cc Polaris, to this one with a 2000cc motor, it’s a huge difference. The body is larger and it has greater suspension travel that is now to the level where we are competitive to Class 10 buggies.” While the RZR Pro R is moving forward, other factory Polaris racers are continuing to win races in their Turbo R and other models too. “Through our experience in Baja racing, we’ve developed a program that allows us to race with the best teams,” says Carpenter. “We feel we have the best drivers that give us the best chances to win. Racers such as Brandon Sims, Mike Cafro, Brandon Schueler, and others are a really big part of this program.” Schueler and the Jagged-X team were one of the first Factory Polaris teams in off-road racing, especially in SCORE. They too helped develop the vehicle’s evolution. “We started with Polaris back in 2007,” said Brandon Schueler. “Back then, our driver, Mat Parks, drove an RZR 800 to a first SCORE UTV class championship. It was quite a task to get those vehicles to the finish line. The average speed was 40-50 mph, and now we approach speeds in excess of 100 mph. A lot of this comes from the RZR’s ability. It handles better, has more suspension travel, and our four-seat Turbo S car is almost the same size as a Class 10 buggy. “The Polaris RZRs have always been held to a standard that we appreciate as a racer. SCORE is an elite series and with the materials, thicknesses, and build-quality of these vehicles we feel more comfortable and safe.” With improved drivetrains, suspension, steering, and more, Polaris racers are enjoying a higher finishing rate in tough races like the SCORE San Felipe 250. 2021 SCORE Pro UTV Stock champion Mike Cafro, believes his stock RZR is just as capable as the SCORE Open class vehicles. “I like racing in the stock class because I know the capability of the vehicle and like to prove what they are actually capable of,” said Cafro. “I’ve finished in the top five (UTV classes), but my goal is to win Overall. The only thing we do to our race car is upgrade the shocks, tires, wheels, cage, seats, and fuel cell. Other than that, every other component on the car is from the factory.” While Polaris RZR vehicles are poised to win more races and championships during the SCORE 2022 season, the company continues to push its vehicles further. “We want to give our race community the best chance to win races,” said Carpenter. “This is especially important in SCORE and Baja, as we want to be the fastest UTV in the harshest conditions. But to do that, our vehicles have to finish. We understand there can be a variety of unseen scenarios that can happen, but we feel our RZR platforms give racers the ability to race with ease and win. In the end, it also leads to a vehicle consumers can feel safe in and with the ability to handle extreme situations to keep them safe.” While the Polaris RZR Pro R is the top vehicle in capability, speed, and advancements, Carpenter says that there’s even more evolution coming. “We’re always listening to driver feedback to continue to learn and further refine our machines. A part of this comes from increased racing at the international level. We love racing in Mexico and Baja– it’s part of our DNA. But in addition to this, UTV racing is expanding into Europe and Asia, and the sport continues to grow from a global standpoint. There’s a lot of markets we’re still tapping into and Polaris is doing its homework.” SJ

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