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SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 47 of 87

PUSHING FORWARD Can-Am Is Building Upon Its Success In SCORE Off-Road Racing By Dan Sanchez Photography By Get Some Photo Over the past two seasons Can-Am UTV racing has brought some stiff competition to SCORE’s Pro UTV classes winning in several classes, along with the Overall SCORE Pro UTV Championship with Matt Burroughs in 2020, in 2021 winning the SCORE Pro UTV Open Championship with Justin Elenburg, and SCORE Pro UTV FI Championship with Phil Blurton. According to Jean-Francois Leclerc, Racing Dept. Manager at Can-Am, the company, a subsidiary of Bombardier Racing Products (BRP), has been racing off-road since the 1970s and has a combined experience of more than 50-years in motorsports. “The first BRP vehicles that raced in SCORE were ATVs, and we won the SCORE Baja 2000 in that class,” said Leclerc. “We won the SCORE Baja 1000 in the ATV class again in 2012, and it was the same time that the company began building UTVs and teamed up with Murray Racing. “We raced our first Can-Am Commander that year, and in those days, just finishing a Baja race was a huge accomplishment,” said Derek Murray. “To make that vehicle race-worthy, we had to modify and over-build many of the components so it would have the strength to last 500 to 1000 miles.” After subsequent years with Derek and Jason Murry’s experience, as well as that of racers such as Marc Burnett and others, Can-Am came out with various platforms that led to the current Maverick Turbo X3. “We raced every version of Can-Am in SCORE over the last five years,” says Derek Murray. “The current model X3’s have become so reliable that we actually run all stock parts, including the motor, differential, gearbox, driveshafts, bearings, etc. The new cars have increased in power and suspension coupled with reliable four-wheel drive, and they are now finishing in the top 20 of the four-wheel classes.” The Can-Am Maverick platform is now a proven Baja-winning vehicle that has its share of race wins and overall championships. “When the first Maverick X3 came out in 2017, everyone who raced it worked out the new car blues,” said Matt Burroughs 2020 SCORE Pro UTV Overall Champion. “Over the past couple of years, Can-Am has worked out the issues and now racers are winning more with it. Can-Am runs their teams really well and they get drivers they believe will be on the starting line, and fully prepared to win. In return, they give teams like ours a lot of factory support with a lead engineer that works exclusively with race teams. That resource is really big for us.” Burroughs is also quick to point out that Can-Am teams no longer have to over-build components for Baja racing because the factory components are built so well. “The steering, front differentials, and frames are much stronger,” says Burroughs. “This came directly from racing, including a stronger rear knuckle that was something new for this year. We are running fewer aftermarket products every year and most of the components other than the safety gear such as a stronger roll cage, fuel cell, seats, and belts are the only things we upgrade.” Further proving that point, is 2021 SCORE Pro UTV FI Champion Phil Blurton, who says his race car has mostly all stock parts. “We won the SCORE Baja 1000 that year on one set of stock axles,” he says. “I believe out of all the other competitors out there, our car is the most stock of all.” Much of the improvements come from Can-Am’s communication with its racers and ability to turn their feedback into improved components. “We’re on the phone with Can-Am almost every morning, as I like to give them as much feedback as possible,” says Blurton. “In return, we get a car that each year has more horsepower and capability. UTV racing is one of the few classes that has manufacturer support and that’s good for the sport. That’s what makes it grow and it’s beneficial to go out and test new parts.” “Every SCORE Baja race is considered by our engineers as a full year of regular usage by the average consumer,” says Leclerc. “We take into account the vehicle stresses, engine, suspension components, and more. We look for areas of improvement within different types of terrain as well as low and high-speed travel. Every component is put to the test during a Baja race.” With more SCORE UTV racers finding that their relatively stock vehicles can compete at the highest levels of off-road racing, it will be interesting to see the growth of the SCORE Pro UTV Open class given that there isn’t much that separates them from stock, forced induction and normally aspirated classes. With these vehicles improving in speed and durability, it’s likely to be an exciting 2020 SCORE Season. SJ

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