Sunday, May 19, 2024

Can-Am Maverick R already seeing rally success before FIA homologation

The Can-Am Maverick R has been tearing it up in desert races across North America, but it will have to wait until 2025 before it can compete in events like the Dakar Rally as the FIA has not completed the homologation process. In the meantime, it has been building up a rally raid portfolio outside of the federation’s jurisdiction with solid results.

Following its release in August, various rally raid teams and drivers got their hands on the Maverick R to test and develop until it is legalised for the World Rally-Raid Championship and other series under FIA sanction. Promoted as the most powerful UTV on the market, it is expected to compete in the W2RC’s SSV category once approved; Can-Am is currently represented in the class by the Maverick XRS Turbo R and RR while the Maverick X3 is used in Challenger for purpose-built racing UTVs.

In the meantime, the car has seen action in domestic and amateur rallies, which have little to no FIA oversight. For example, the Abu Dhabi Baja Challenge run by FIA member club Emirates Motorsports Organization had a Maverick R compete in the SxS Pro class that follows FIA SSV regulation.

The Russian Rally-Raid Championship quickly permitted the Maverick R to race there, albeit with the caveats that only fifteen-inch wheels are permitted and the Smart-Shox active suspension must be disabled. Most Maverick R wheels are sixteen inches, though there is enough clearance to accommodate 15″. The wheel restriction does not exist for the Alpha Race in Bashkortostan, which is independent from the Russian championship, though the car can only compete as an Open entry rather than in SSV.

Can-Am’s W2RC partner South Racing débuted their own FIA-spec Maverick R at the Morocco Desert Challenge in April. Erik Van Loon dominated at the start by winning the first three stages in the SSV class before retiring with a late mechanical issue. Van Loon described the car as like a “mini Trophy Truck” that’s “completely different” from its predecessor.

Last weekend, the Maverick R won the MudEST RallyRaid, Estonia’s only major rally raid, courtesy of Dakar competitor Urvo Männama that he borrowed from his brother. Männama was the fastest UTV by a wide margin and the only non-bike in the top five overall.

Many W2RC regulars including reigning SSV champion Rokas Baciuška, Challenger driver Austin Jones, and 2023 Dakar SSV victor Eryk Goczał have tested the car themselves. Reigning Silk Way Rally T3 winner Sergei Kariakin was receptive about the vehicle after driving it, though he noted it still has kinks to iron out before it could be properly raced. João Ferreira told The Checkered Flag in October that the introduction of the Maverick R along with South’s successes in the class would make for “a good year” in 2024.

Despite its unusual tall-knuckle front suspension, the Maverick R quickly showcased its power shortly after its launch when Dustin Jones won in its competition début at the 2023 Silver State 300, becoming the first UTV to win a desert race outright. Speaking with TCF after the victory, Jones called it “the next evolution of UTVs.”

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