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Polaris partners with Sebastien Loeb Racing for the 2024 Dakar Rally

As the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally is set to begin on January 5, 2024 in Saudi Arabia, Polaris Off-Road has announced it is joining forces with Sebastien Loeb Racing (SLR), as SLR drivers Xavier de Soultrait and Florent Vayssade contest the SSV T4 category behind the wheel of Polaris’ RZR Pro R Factory race machines.

Backed by the full power of Polaris Engineering, the SLR team will be well-equipped to battle the unrelenting terrain of Dakar, where both man and machine will be pushed to the limit. (Photo: Polaris Off-Road)

Based on the revolutionary RZR Pro R platform, the all-new RZR Pro R Factory was unveiled earlier this year as the centerpiece for the Polaris Factory Racing team, setting a new precedent within the UTV industry with its race-ready level of power, strength, and control.

“Our success with the Polaris Factory Racing team during its first season in the SCORE Baja racing series, capped off with a coveted Baja 1000 victory … but Dakar is an entirely different beast. That said, Sebastien Loeb Racing is a finely tuned program with an enormous level of experience at Dakar. We couldn’t be more excited to put the RZR Pro R Factory to an entirely new test,” says Alex Scheuerell, Polaris Factory Racing technical director. “Our engineering teams have continued to refine and develop the RZR Pro R Factory platform specifically for international rally racing and the unique demands it places on both drivers and vehicles. We are excited to take on this incredible challenge with the combined power of Polaris Engineering and our incredible partners at SLR.”

Throughout the 2023 season, the vehicle and team have proven its superiority by dominating the competition and securing the SCORE Pro UTV Open Class Championship with wins at each of the four SCORE events – San Felipe 250, Baja 400, Baja 500, and Baja 1000. Now after a successful first season in the sands of Baja, Polaris will take the RZR Pro R Factory to Dakar for what is considered by many as the most grueling off-road race in the world.

Utilizing a high-strength, lightweight chassis compliant with FIA T4 Class, a race-tuned ProStar Fury 2.0L engine, and Fox 3.0 shocks, the two SLR RZR Pro R Factory vehicles are built to withstand the demands of the nearly 5,000-mile event. Additionally, the chassis has an integrated spare parts and tool storage supply, an essential feature as there will be no pit crew, and drivers will need to make their own repairs while on the course.

International rally racing brings with it a variety of unique factors and demands on both drivers and vehicles that had to be addressed by the Polaris engineering team in terms of design considerations and modifications for the existing RZR Pro R Factory. Polaris engineers placed an emphasis on weight in order to meet the minimum requirement for Dakar, while also working to increase visibility and sightlines.

Unlike the RZR Pro Factory vehicles utilized in the SCORE series in 2023, these vehicles have been equipped with full, heated glass windshields, wipers, a washer and a blower kit. Serviceability is also a huge factor in rally racing, with drivers required to make their own repairs during the race. For this reason, the engineering team developed added storage capacity for tools and spare parts.

In addition to SLR fielding two RZR Pro R Factory machines, the Xtremplus team of Shinsuke Umeda (2023 T4 vice-champions in the W2RC World Rally-Raid Championship), Michele Cinotto and Jorge Wagernfuhr will be equipped with race-modified RZR Pro Rs, along with the TH-Trucks Team of Enrico Gaspari, Daniel González Reina and Domingo Román Pardos who will also navigate the two-week event in RZR Pro Rs.

The Polaris-backed teams will tackle the world’s toughest race runs from January 5, 2024, in AlUla and finishes on January 19, 2024, in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.

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