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Ski-Doo sled racing team drives advances

Technology a collaborative effort between divisions

Sebastien Thibault brought experience with both race cars and shock absorbers when he joined BRP about a decade ago.
Thankfully for snowmobile fans who are seeking the dream ride, his tenure in the OEM’s engineering department lasted only six months before he brought his expertise to the racing division.

“I had been in racing before as an engineer for race cars and shock companies, so it was good for me to get back to doing that. And I’m still here,” Thibault laughed.

In fact, when Thibault made the move to the BRP race shop, he was the first engineer hired for racing purposes only.
“Our philosophy was basically to bring some advanced engineering, test it on the race track and hopefully push that forward to the consumer sled. And for sure, we did that very, very quickly,” he said.

Thibault continues to use his background to help build sleds that meet consumer demands.

“We basically have a little portion of the racing [division] that is advanced engineering,” he said. “We do R&D to get those sleds to go faster through the bumps. Anything that can translate for consumers is basically passed on to engineering, and I’m the guy who takes care of that.”

The innovation and technology advances that originate in test labs eventually make their way into dealership showrooms.
“When I first showed up in racing we developed new shocks, clicker shocks, that you seen on all the consumer sleds these days,” Thibault said. “That started basically at the race shop – shock technology being tested on the race track for Ski-Doo and BRP, and then on to the consumer sled.”

Sebastien Thibault made an early move to the snowmobile racing division at BRP and continues to bring the latest technology advances to Ski-Doo race teams.

Suspension geometry also got its start in the BRP race shop in concert with the engineering department. BRP’s rMotion rear suspension debuted to rave reviews on the 2012 Ski-Doo MX Z X and MX Z X-RS sleds.

“We tested rMotion for a year before it showed up for consumers,” Thibault said. “We started rMotion with a race sled, and most of our performance models are equipped with it now.”

What’s coming out of the race shop next? That is a wait-and-see proposition.

“We always have to be a step ahead,” Thibault said. “Every day at work is thinking about something to make those sleds go faster and quicker and be more efficient. Everything we figure out to get those sleds more efficient will probably suit the needs of the consumer to get them cleaner and freer, so racing is taking care of that as well.”

Ski-Doo’s race sleds don’t differ all that much from what a consumer might seek out at a dealership.

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“Basically any MX Z that a consumer could buy, I would say more than 80 percent of the parts are the same [as on a race sled],” Thibault said. “So we’re basically racing production sleds, and we have some add-ons to make it survive the harshness of the tracks. For sure the 2012 X-RS is the closest. They share more than 90 percent of the parts and do look the same — they share the same decals and color as the race sleds. They look exactly the same.”

And while Thibault always appreciates Ski-Doo dealers yearning to know what’s next, sometimes even the chief racing guru gets stumped by questions.

“For sure they’re looking for secrets for the year after,” Thibault laughed. “They know that they could see something on the track and hope for it the year after.”

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