To compete at a top-level in desert racing in a UTV, you need to have a car that is the best of the best, the best parts, the best chassis, and the best support. Something that can handle hundreds of miles of harsh and rough terrain without breaking a sweat. It needs to be reliable, fast, and strong; after all, it is going over terrain at speeds you wouldn’t dare push your stock UTV. We met up with Adrian Orellana of Rancho Racing to check out his race car: a 2019 Polaris RZR XP1000 naturally aspirated UTV built by Cognito Motorsports. This vehicle has been built to compete at the highest level of desert racing both at Best in the Desert and at SCORE. Just this year, Adrian has piloted his RZR to claim a victory at the Mint 400 and Second place at the Baja 1000, and a third overall, driving solo the entire race.
So, what does it take to turn a 2019 Polaris RZR into a desert ready race car? Cognito Motorsports took a completely stock 4-seat RZR and turned it into a 2-seat race-ready chassis removing pretty much everything from the factory. Having a longer wheelbase allows for better handling through the whoops and rougher terrain as compared to a shorter wheelbase, which is slower through bumps but faster in the corners.
To be able to soak up the huge bumps down in Baja, it has been outfitted with full Cognito long-travel suspension allowing for 20+ inches of travel front and rear. But you can have all the suspension travel in the world, but if the shocks aren’t set up properly, then it is all for nothing, resulting in low speeds and improper handling. That is why Adrian went with tuned Fox 2.5″ Internal Bypass shocks allowing for ultimate suspension performance.
Since this is a naturally aspirated car, getting as much power as possible is essential, so it has been outfitted with an Alba Racing Engine fueled by a 30-gallon fuel cell. This is to not only give it that extra power it needs but was built to withstand abuse for a prolonged period. Adrian has opted to use a CryoHeat built transmission and axles from Summers Brothers Racing to get the power down to the ground.
This year Adrian raced Vegas to Reno, the longest off-road race in America; it also happened to be the year’s hottest race, reaching a high of 105+ degrees. The last thing he wants is his car overheating, so he has mounted a massive CBR Performance radiator right behind his head to provide efficient cooling.
He races hundreds of miles each race so he needs durable wheels and tires, so Adrian has chosen to utilize 32″ Fuel UTV Tires, wrapped in sturdy aluminum 15″ Fuel Block signature wheels with beadlocks.
Adrian and his team have built this RZR to be a proven machine to compete at the highest level, and the results speak for themselves. He just completed the Baja 1000 without any significant issues. They are constantly working on it, making it better and better each and every time they work on it. It is currently torn down to a bare chassis getting rebuilt and ready for Adrian’s next race. It is only a matter of time we see this Polaris RZR on the podium more often.