With the first snowfall already blanketing much of the North, it’s officially time to get your sleds out. That’s right, it’s finally time to play in the snow, the very best time of the year! What better way to celebrate than to get ready for the 2023-2024 Snocross Season?
With the upcoming Snocross Season set to launch on December 15, 2023, we got together with Ski-Doo Race Director Carey Daku. He gave us the inside scoop on their new Snocross sled, the dashing MXZ 600RS. Let’s just say, if Santa knew about this baby, he wouldn’t need any reindeer.
Go ahead, put a few logs on to warm the fire and make yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa while enjoying this 2023-2024 Ski-Doo Snocross Season Preview. Riders, start your engines…
What happens when you refine a championship-winning snowmobile through the lens of perfectionists? Introducing the 2024 Ski-Doo MXZ 600RS, the answer to that very question. That’s right, the podium-proven MXZ Race Special is back and better than ever before thanks to the dedicated innovation of the entire Ski-Doo team.
Upon first glance, the all-new Ski-Doo MXZ 600RS looks every bit the shiny new toy you can’t wait to take for a spin in the fresh snow. Take a look under the hood and you’ll see a whole lot more than meets the eye, which is what really makes this Snocross sled unique.
Even the most subtle changes can make a huge impact on the race track, which is why Ski-Doo focused on looking for ways to improve their winning formula. Some of the modifications are major compared to last year’s model while other upgrades might seem insignificant, they play a crucial role in improving the sled’s overall performance, handling, and durability.
For starters, Ski-Doo added a fourth engine mount which provides more stability for a smoother experience. This also reduces excessive engine vibration which has a positive impact on how the sled feels to the rider by absorbing resonance before it transfers to the chassis. The additional engine mount also helps limit wear and tear to other components over time.
Other changes include upgrading to the new REV Gen5 platform. Not only does this mean the MXZ 600RS has a reinforced chassis compared to last year’s sled, it is also the first Snocross Ski-Doo to feature the benefits of the latest REV fifth-generation platform. REV is the ever-evolving groundbreaking chassis design from Ski-Doo that just keeps getting better.
With its open cockpit design and centrally balanced engine, the REV Gen5 provides superior rider ergonomics and incredible handling in rugged conditions. From agility to responsiveness, the Ski-Doo Race Team thought of everything while designing the MXZ 600RS. This includes giving it Ergo Step side panels and a beveled tunnel which gives racers more track room without chassis interference.
One of the most convenient features of the Gen5 REV chassis include a quick-change drive axle for easier track changes on the fly. Other highlights include a reinforced front S-module. Ski-Doo even relocated the ignition coil and RAVE motor inboard to provide additional protection from impact.
Riders will enjoy reliable and consistent clutch performance thanks to improved CVT cooling on the MXZ 600RS. From the stiffer chassis to the sled track design, this Snocross racing snowmobile offers precise handling and better overall feedback to the rider.
The race-bred DNA of the Ski-Doo MXZ 600RS is obvious to the naked eye but sledheads everywhere are geeking out over the specs and deets. This sleigh even has upgraded booster injectors and a new front-arm adjustment for the rear suspension.
Carey goes into more detail regarding the approach the Ski-Doo Race Team took while bringing their vision to life: “We focused a lot on the center of gravity, suspension, and the chassis itself. The goal then becomes, what did we learn from this package and where can we improve?”
Daku continued, “We are always evaluating results and performance. With the 2024 600RS, we had a couple specific goals. Initial traction off the starting line and suspension performance in heavier spring-like snow conditions were some of them. We have switched to the Gen 5 chassis now and we have changed some components in the rear suspension to help in these areas. We feel we have made big changes and it will be interesting to see if the results of our testing prove to be the results on the track we are looking for.”
Make no mistake about it, the MXZ 600RS is a rider’s sled, through and through. Every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears it took to make this snowmobile possible is evident as soon as you unleash it.
However, to truly appreciate its greatness, you should take a moment to realize how much hard work and dedication it takes to make a sled like this. You might see a championship sled when you look at the MXZ 600RS but it’s really just the byproduct of teamwork, perseverance, and sharing common goals.
Ski-Doo Race Director Carey Daku credits the entire team for making this abominable snowbeast possible: “Communication, R&D, and production are all very complicated and extremely important steps in developing and building a winning snowmobile. It all starts with the team we have behind the scenes, whether that is our management and engineers or the riders, technicians and teams we work with. Everyone’s feedback is important for us.”
This kind of continual success takes years to build, even the smallest of changes can take several seasons to polish. That’s the pursuit of perfection in action, which is what it takes to build a winning sled.
Daku continued, “We all want to win and have the best product on the track. We all communicate a lot and share each other’s ideas and thoughts. From there we might develop a new part or try something new to test and see what is possible. Many changes are years in the making and take time to prove that the change is a direction we want to take. Winning is the byproduct of all of the hard work, when we all do our jobs effectively.”
Some other highlights of the 2024 Ski-Doo MXZ 600 RS are changes from last year that have been tried and true on the race course. That includes the RAS RS front suspension with shorter shock length, which maintains the same travel distance to keep the center of gravity lower to the ground. An increased spring rate helps reduce roll which allows for better cornering performance.
The front suspension still features a long spindle design allowing for high cornering speeds. There is even a unique power steering system, only available on the MXZ RS, that’s engineered to provide precise handling with minimal effort.
Of course, you can’t talk about the MXZ RS600 without mentioning the engine. Honed to perfection, the Rotax 600RS E-TEC engine shares a lot of similarities with the distinguished turbocharged 850 E-TEC platform.
In Carey’s own words, “We share the same design principles, including the boost injection system, that you see on the 600RS and our 850 sleds. Rotax has worked closely with our race department to develop an incredibly strong and reliable race engine.”
If you don’t mind a little elbow grease and shop talk, the 600RS features a 600cc engine with E-TEC direct injection and a monoblock cylinder design featuring a plasma coating. They even upgraded to larger injectors for the 2024 600RS while recalibrating the entire engine for more power and responsiveness.
The lightweight exhaust system consists of tuned stainless steel piping and the racing throttle block is ready for 50% throttle applications from the factory. There is even a hot start button for added convenience.
One of the most popular sleds available from Ski-Doo is the MXZ X-RS featuring the Rotax 850 E-TEC Turbo R engine. That’s why several components of the 600RS are inspired by the 850 platform. Some of those components include the intake booster injectors, shorter intake length, and double reed valves. Even the eRAVE system is 850-inspired on the 600RS, which optimizes the engine’s power-band delivery.
One thing remains very clear, Ski-Doo is using a formula that delivers winning results, year after year. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If you’re excited for the upcoming Snocross season, there are plenty of Ski-Doo riders you should keep an eye out for. As Carey says, “There are a lot of storylines to follow this winter and I think fans are going to have a lot to talk about. I’m very fortunate to work with the best racers in the world, I wish I could list them all!”
Obviously there are going to be a lot of eyeballs on Elias Ishoel, who has won the past five Snocross Championships. Will he claim his sixth in a row? Don’t sleep on Hunter Patenaude or Malene Cottew either, the season hasn’t even started yet.
For all the talk about riders and sleds, there are some people who never get enough credit when it comes to this amazing sport. Those people definitely include you, the fans. While reminiscing about the past and thinking about the future, the very first people Carey Daku gave a shout-out to are the driving force behind Snocross to this day:
“Racing fans are the core of snowmobiling. I always enjoy listening to them bench racing and they will always share moments in time that stood out to them.”
Daku continued, “The Blair Morgan era is one that, to me, is at the top of the list. In my opinion, he accomplished a lot. He put Snocross on the map, he proved the REV platform was the new direction of snowmobile design, and he helped build the Ski-Doo brand and race program into what it is today.”
It’s clear that Blair Morgan left a lasting impression on Daku, “Morgan paved the path for the riders that have followed him including now multi-champion Elias Ishoel. Morgan still comes to the races and mentors our racers and teams. There are many times I ask his opinion. Who better to get feedback from?”
Question: What kind of path do you suggest ambitious young Snocross enthusiasts should take if they want to eventually land a career working behind the scenes with a professional snowmobile racing crew such as the Ski-Doo Race Team?
Answer: Follow your passion. If you have a drive to be the best racer, mechanic or team manager, etc., don’t lose sight of that goal. Every step you take is a learning process, every job you have, do it to the best of your abilities.
Learn as much as possible and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The job I have currently was my dream job and it took me almost 20 years to achieve that goal. I made a lot of great friends over the years and those relationships I built all helped me achieve my goal.
Q: Ski-Doo is coming off yet another Snocross championship with Elias Ishoel at the helm last season, his fifth in the row. Although Ishoel is changing race teams this upcoming season, he is going to ride a Ski-Doo sled again. Over the years, Ski-Doo has a rich history of prestigious Snocross victories. What’s your secret? What’s the ideal Ski-Doo winning formula for making a championship caliber sled for modern Snocross racing?
A: We have been very fortunate with our success but my only secret is that you do not win without a strong foundation. The foundation, to me, consists of a lot of things but the main keys are people, product, and culture. Once that is strong, the rider then has a solid program and the results will come.
Q: How much back-and-forth interaction and feedback is there between some of your top Ski-Doo athletes and your sled engineering team? Do you look for ways to optimize your racing sleds through communication with some of your riders?
A: Communication and rider feedback are incredibly important to developing and learning about the sled. Each racer has a different riding style and feel. We listen to all feedback from Pro to Amateur as it sometimes surprises me what we learn.
Q: How are you and the rest of the Ski-Doo team feeling about the upcoming 2023-2024 Snocross season?
A: There is a new level of excitement coming into this season. We have had a lot of changes with riders and teams but many were done by design to line up riders with programs that fit each other. I feel the structure of each program this year is very balanced and I feel it will work efficiently.
To some people, racing and motorsports are much more than just spectator entertainment or healthy competition. Many people do not even realize how important of a role motorsports play in the advancement of transportation and technological progress in society.
Companies often take what they learn at the track and apply it to engineering across their entire production lineup. Everything from performance to safety features are pushed to their absolute limits on the track providing companies with invaluable data for their research and development. This process is especially helpful when it comes to making world-class snowmobiles.
Those same principles are practiced at Ski-Doo, where the introduction of new technology is playing a vital role in the future of snowmobile engineering and design. Carey took a moment to expand on how that process can play out at times:
“Racing is still looked at as two different avenues. The marketing aspect of racing and winning goes without saying. We are all competitive people and want to see our favorite rider and brand win. Our goal is to continue those winning ways with the rider line-up we have. The other reason we race is the technical R&D side. The stress that a Snocross, cross country or hill climb sled goes through in a race is incredible and hard to replicate on any dyno or on the trail. Through racing, we are able to introduce and test components prior to them being released on production models.”
In case you are wondering what’s next for the Ski-Doo Race Team, Daku is playing his cards close to his vest. However, if you pay close attention to what he is saying, you can be sure the team is already scheming their next big move:
“Engine, chassis, and electronic technology are advancing at a rapid rate. We were the first to offer a factory-built Turbo sled and we introduced another step to that by presenting the water injection system to the MXZ X-RS 850 Competition Package. Launch control and electronic smart shocks also continue to be used on some of our models, it’s a great time to be a customer. As for what we are working on behind the scenes, the world will have to wait!”
There you have it, folks. To catch a glimpse of the all-new 2024 Ski-Doo MXZ 600RS in action, all you have to do is attend any Snocross event this season. The action gets started on December 15-16 at Mt. Zion Ski Hill in Ironwood, Michigan. Don’t miss a single minute of physics-defying Snocross action this season!