Why are Side-by-side UTVs all over the 2019 Dakar?

Side-by-side Photo: Youtube

At Dakar, side-by-side racers are taking over.

The 2019 Dakar rally is filled with a variety of vehicles, but one type of racer has shown up in force. Side-by-side vehicles have become so popular, they now have their own Dakar classification. In many cases, side-by-side vehicles come from the factory (nearly) race ready.

There are a few side-by-sides represented for 2019, including the Can-Am Maverick X3, the Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo and the Textron Wildcat XX. The side-by-side class has over 40 vehicles participating in the 2019 Dakar with the Team Speed Textron UTV Wildcat representing the smallest contingent.

… which is why we are taking a closer look.

The Wildcat XX and Wildcat XX LTD are large side-by-sides built by Textron Off-Road (formally Arctic Cat). “In 2017, Arctic Cat became part of Textron, a Fortune 250 manufacturer of high-performance industrial, defense and aviation machines. The result? A formidable lineup of side-by-sides and ATVs, headlined by the new Wildcat™ XX and Prowler™ Pro.”

With popular racers like Robby Gordon (Number 316) running a Team Speed Textron UTV Wildcat derivative, they are showing promise and, they are fairly inexpensive to run. The average price of a Wildcat starts around $21,000 before options and upgrades.

Here are the basics for the Wildcat XX:

Horsepower130HP
Displacement998cc
Drive TrainCVT
Drive SystemElectric 2/4WD with 4WD Lock
Fuel SystemElectronic Fuel Injection
Gear SelectionTEAM Rapid Response Clutches (H,L,N,R,P)
Front DifferentialFront Locking Differential with Electrical Actuator
Rear DifferentialRear Transaxle

This is a big change for Gordon as he’s run the Dakar several times in the past using a buggy-based Hummer, which was (basically) a stadium/Baja truck. This new vehicle has completely different dimensions and it’s not quite what he’s used to driving. Then again, the dude races Indy Cars too.

Best of luck Mr. Gordon, we’ll be watching this year’s Dakar closely.