by Andy Bryenton
The Formula One racing season is off to a great start, delivering the usual rivalries, intense pursuits and lightning-fast pit stops for viewers worldwide. Moreover, it’s also serving up plenty of technical data and science to help refine the cars of tomorrow.
It’s not just on the high-speed blacktop of the world’s road circuits that this kind of innovation comes to life, however. Polaris, well known for their off-road machines, have taken a look at F1 as well. The first thing they noticed is that you need to lose a seat.
Well, we’re not really sure if the inspiration for the new, 110 horsepower, 999cc twin cylinder beast they call the RS1 came from watching big-winged road rockets lap Imola and Monaco. What is certain is that the feel of pure acceleration has been channelled into this slim-hipped, big-wheeled version of Polaris’ legendary RZR series competitive side by side. They’ve made it a single seat machine, paring away weight, adding a wide stance, centralising mass and adding fun factor.
Part of this smile-inducing operation is to do with the wide 64-inch track in comparison to the slimmed down body, which gives the look of a classic dirt track midget car or a tiny Baja racer. Dual A-arms up front and trailing arm suspension in back help the body and that single fighter-pilot seat glide over rough terrain, as the power from the four-stroke, liquid cooled DOHC engine is delivered via an automatic box and auto on-demand all wheel drive. That means a predictable, plantable back end and the added confidence of extra grip in the turns.
Further confidence is inspired by the single-seat layout because, as we’ve seen on those F1 cars or even the McLaren of the same name, a central driving position is intuitive. You know exactly where the wheels are, in this case, you can see the front wheels through the chopped-out door frame panels, and place them on every apex, or for grip on every rock and boulder. Visibility out the back may not be as grand, but with this kind of speed, what’s behind you is of little concern.
By taking away a seat, Polaris has added fun and acknowledged that many riders are out there to enjoy pushing the envelope as a way to relax and unwind, alone but for the throttle and the sound of worries being obliterated in the slipstream.