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Big Changes for 2017 Race Sleds

New models from Polaris and Arctic Cat will hit the tracks this season
AMSOIL ISOC National Snocross Finish Line
A one-two punch! That is what we were delivered recently when Polaris and Arctic Cat released their all-new 2017 race sleds. New chassis, fuel delivery systems and more are being seen on the cross country courses and snocross tracks this winter. Here is the full report!
2017 Polaris 600R race sled
SPECS – Engine: 599cc liquid twin 2-stroke electronic oil injection Dual Stage fuel Injection (DSI) Bore/Stroke: 73.8 x 70mm Drive: Arctic rpm sensing primary (TEAM Rapid Response on XC version), TEAM TSS-04 secondary Brake: Hayes race hydraulic radial master cylinder w/ lightweight disc Exhaust: APV w/ tuned ceramic-coated pipe, pipe sensor and lightweight canister Ski Stance: 43.5 in. Ski: C&A Pro XT (Trail 5 in. on XC) Front Susp.: ARS w/ FOX Float 3 EVOL RC shocks (FOX 1.5 ZERO QS3R coil-over shocks w/ Kashima coating on the XC) (10 in. travel) Rear Susp.: Slide-Action w/ FOX 1.5 ZERO C center shock, FOX 2.0 ZERO RC rear shock (Kashima coated on the XC) (13.5 in. travel) Track: 15x129x1.75 Snocross 2-ply (Cobra 2-ply w/ 1.25 lug on XC). Rec. Fuel: 92 non-oxygenated Premix 32:1 ratio; 7 gal. (minimum 91 octane; 11.7 gal. on XC).
Polaris 600R: Chassis redesigned … yes!
First off, this is not an XCR. Polaris unveiled the XCR with its 2017 model lineup, and that race-inspired sled is available in a 600cc or 800cc platform. But the new 600R is different. This is the precursor to what we believe we will most likely see next in the AXYS chassis. We had a sneak preview of this sled in our February 2016 issue, so it really wasn’t a surprise. The 600R has a more traditional tunnel and suspension setup than the Rush sleds. Does this mean Polaris is slowing use of the Rush soon?

Enough conjecture, more talk on the new sled! The actual sled body is 10 inches narrower than the previous IQ 600R, which had been a sled under constant “remodeling” since 2005. New geometry and motors were tried on the old IQ, but nothing cornered better than this new AXYS racer.

“The new panels, sides and bodywork really allow me to pull the bars in where they need to be to make the tight corners,” said pro racer Kyle Pallin.

The styling certainly lends itself well to mobility and comfortability for keeping the inside ski lift down in the corners. Watch for Polaris riders to be moving through the corners much faster this winter.

In addition to the body, there is a new intake and plenum as well as new headlight and what they are calling a “windshield.” A new footwell supposedly reduces drag in corners and gives more ventilation to the motor bay. Those refinements are all great, but a new two-post steering system, exhaust system (lower weight and sound, but better quality), clutch weights, and drive belt (and aforementioned intake and plenum) are the real performance upgrades.

The bar follows a new arc with the new steering post/system that is flatter and more intuitive in the tight corners, allowing the rider to get lower and reduce fatigue. Mechanical advantage is gained by sweeping the handlebars farther too.

The same 600 Cleanfire engine from last year is in this new 600R, along with the forced induction from the new intake. It also has the same IFS (Independent Front Suspension) over the skis, and the ski stance is a tiny bit wider.

One feature the mechanics will use more than the racers is the new Digital Message Center Gauge on the 600R. We are fairly sure these won’t be the “standard message center gauges” for the big boys either. But for the small independents, it will probably be useful to see diagnostic warnings and maintenance codes that can be quickly and easily identified.

According to Polaris engineers, the new 600R is “weight neutral” compared to last year’s IQ racer, and only 200 of them will be built per ISR rules. Obviously, these are for competition only. Don’t be led astray by other media; the general public can’t buy one of these, and they are not for the trails as they do not comply with emissions.
2017 Arctic Cat ZR 6000R race sled
SPECS – Engine: 599cc liquid twin 2-stroke electronic oil injection Dual Stage fuel Injection (DSI) Bore/Stroke: 73.8 x 70mm Drive: Arctic rpm sensing primary (TEAM Rapid Response on XC version), TEAM TSS-04 secondary Brake: Hayes race hydraulic radial master cylinder w/ lightweight disc Exhaust: APV w/ tuned ceramic-coated pipe, pipe sensor and lightweight canister Ski Stance: 43.5 in. Ski: C&A Pro XT (Trail 5 in. on XC) Front Susp.: ARS w/ FOX Float 3 EVOL RC shocks (FOX 1.5 ZERO QS3R coil-over shocks w/ Kashima coating on the XC) (10 in. travel) Rear Susp.: Slide-Action w/ FOX 1.5 ZERO C center shock, FOX 2.0 ZERO RC rear shock (Kashima coated on the XC) (13.5 in. travel) Track: 15x129x1.75 Snocross 2-ply (Cobra 2-ply w/ 1.25 lug on XC). Rec. Fuel: 92 non-oxygenated Premix 32:1 ratio; 7 gal. (minimum 91 octane; 11.7 gal. on XC).
Arctic Cat ZR 6000R: A new race fuelie and a glimpse at the future of trail sleds
With the new ZR 6000R SX (snocross) and XC (cross country), Arctic Cat is the only OEM with an electronic fuel-injected race sled. All former racing models were traditionally carbed. The legendary Speedwerx has put a lot of time and effort into helping Cat maintain a high-level race team. Speedwerx owner Jeremy Houle said he is as excited for cross country racing as snocross this year.

The XC version of the new Cat race sled has totally new body panels (called Gen II). You’ll also notice in the specs that the XC’s overall length is about three inches shorter than the SX version, and that the XC is wider by about an inch and a half. Some of this is to fit the larger gas tank on the XC (11 gallons vs. 7 gallons on the SX). No doubt many of these 2017 upgrades will translate to trail sleds in the future.

What’s new on the XC: 
Gen II body plastic (better venting, easier on/off and access),  rear tunnel cooling system with separated front and rear coolers, tunnel assembly for coolers, coolers have integrated stud and strip protection, coolant fitting and hose assembly, chain tensioner arm and pad, TEAM drive clutch hardware and components, TEAM TSS-04 driven clutch with torsion spring for better backshifting, pipe covers for heat retention, seat base and mounting, spindle machining for strength, hand warmers and rear belt bag.

What’s new on the SX:
An EFI race engine, intake flanges and boot and air box, T-map sensor (6000 C-TEC2), Speedwerx ported cylinder, cylinder head profile, Speedwerx modified 6000 C-TEC2 throttle bodies, electrical harness and mounting, coil mounting bracket, engine mounting, programmed EDU with hot start function, coolant tank nipple and hose assembly, engine knock sensor (6000 C-TEC2), co-developed Speedwerx exhaust, fuel tank and pump assembly, light vertical side spars for chaincase durability, cowl and windshield and mounting, front exchanger, engine mount plates, TSS-04 driven clutch with torsion spring for better backshifts, Power Sport gauge with hot start indicator (speed, rpm, water temp, exhaust temp, voltage), spindle machining, high-strength handlebar and grip, track with greater lug durability.
2017 Ski-Doo MXZx 600 RS race sled
SPECS – Engine: 594.4cc Rotax 600R liquid twin 2-stroke w/ V-Force reeds, Mikuni TMX 40mm carbs Bore/Stroke: 72 x 73mm Drive: Racing pDrive primary w/ clickers, TEAM TSS-04 secondary Brake: Brembo hydraulic, racing piston insulator, racing pads, racing disc Exhaust: Y-pipe w/ tuned pipe and lightweight muffler Ski Stance: 41.93-43.64 in. adj. Ski: Pilot 5.7R single runner Front Susp.: REV-XP Racing w/ KYB Pro 40R high/low speed comp. and rebound adj. shocks (9.5 in. travel) Rear Susp.: rMotion racing w/ KYB Pro 40 high/low speed comp. adj. shocks (10.7 in. travel) Track: 15x129x1.75 Rec. Fuel: 92 non-oxygenated Premix 33:1 ratio.
Ski-Doo MXZx 600RS: Just wait, it's coming …
Realistically, not much is new for the 2017 Ski-Doo MXZx 600RS. Last year was really the big year with the addition of the new pDrive roller-style primary clutch, a new cylinder design, crankshaft, stator, Y-pipe, tuned pipe, muffler, track, coupling, and seat. This year, there are decidedly fewer updates to Ski-Doo’s race sled, but that means something bigger is definitely coming!

Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is still new stuff on the 2017 600RS. The newly updated primary pDrive clutching includes an added 14mm of weight on the pivot, a stiffer spring for higher engagement (230-245 versus 200-380) and a new clicker position. The secondary clutch gets a new 74-44x0.40 cam versus the old 64-44x0.40. A new slip gear is said to improve tolerances and production for better stability and smoother engagement. Suspension coupling was also updated, mainly for faster and more reliable holeshots. The silver, black and yellow graphics are also a little bit different.

This is all stuff you can read on the spec sheets though. If you want more info on the new clutch from last year, check out this article from our January 2016 issue, where our Tech Editor Olav Aaen goes into detail on it. 

Ski-Doo also has a new Iron Dog consumer-available race version of the 600 X-RS, and you can find more information on that sled here. With both Iron Dog and Cain’s Quest endurance race wins under their belt for 2016, Ski-Doo is feeling confident in the cross-country segment of the racing world. So it’s building sleds for the more ardent, long-distance, rough terrain riders who might want to dabble in cross-country racing.  

A couple more updates: The new 850 E-TEC motor from Ski-Doo will be competing on the RMSHA hillclimb circuit this year. Read on for more info from our Western Editor and RMSHA expert Ryan Thompson.
2017 Yamaha Sidewinder turbocharged RMSHA snowmobile hillclimb racing
With its turbocharged 998cc motor, the Yamaha Sidewinder doesn’t seem to fit into any hillclimb racing class. Does it belong in the 800 Stock class, the Mod class or neither?
Ryan Thompson - RLT Photos
2017 Ski-Doo Summit X 850 E-TEC RMSHA snowmobile hillclimb racing
The RMSHA board decided that Ski-Doo’s new 850 E-TEC 2-stroke will be eligible to race in the 1000 Stock, 1000 Improved and Open Mod classes.
Ryan Thompson - RLT Photos
Hillclimb Debate! What to do with Turbos and 850?
This past May, the RMSHA board’s hot topic was deciding which classes the new Ski-Doo 850 and the Sidewinder Turbo 998cc would be in. RMSHA rules state that stock sleds come straight from the factory without any mods. But what about the Sidewinder with it’s factory turbo?

Troy Johnson, manager for the Yamaha hillclimb team, pushed for it to be placed in the 800 stock class, stating that because of its slightly bigger weight and need to muscle it more in the corners, it was still a competitive fit for the 800 Stock class, and that the turbo just leveled the playing field for the 4-strokes. Others argued it should be in the Mod class because of the turbo. In the end, the board decided to let the OEMs decide the fate of the 998cc turbo via conference call. Unfortunately, this never happened because shortly thereafter, Yamaha moved its North American operations to Canada.

We hope Yamaha will attempt to have sleds racing on the circuit, but as it sits at press time, anyone riding Yamaha will have to do so independently in RMSHA.

The topic of factory turbos is sure to be brought up in future meetings until either a new class is formed or a decision is made regarding where turbos belong. Rules are constantly changing, and everyone involved has to adapt.

As for the 850 from Ski-Doo, it will be racing in the 1000 Stock, 1000 Improved and Open Mod classes. Ski-Doo factory rider and RMSHA Racer of the Year Blaine “Spanky” Mathews (#230) had this to say: “I think the 850 will fit very well in the 1000 Stock, 1000 Improved and Open Mod classes. In the past, we have dealt with weight issues compared to other manufacturers, but yet we still competed. The 850 is much lighter and has more power, so I feel it’s going to be a huge advantage for myself and Team Ski-Doo.”

It may only be a matter of time before the western circuit sees sleds with factory-installed turbos from all of the manufacturers. Having a turbo in the mountains is becoming the new norm, not just on the hillclimb circuit, but also in the backcountry. Gone are the days of stock sleds trying to tame Snow King during the World Championship Hillclimbs. Mark Thompson did that 20 years ago on a Ski-Doo Summit 670! Elapsed times average right around one minute from start to finish on the circuit, so quickness is king now.
– Ryan Thompson, Western Editor

More info: www.rmsha.net
Facebook: www.facebook.com/racermsha; www.facebook.com/RLTRMSHA
Instagram: @racermsha
RMSHA rules: www.isrracing.org/rules.cfm?aID=10049
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