It was a weekend about firsts: the first-annual Heartland Challenge and the first time the new Polaris Sportsman 850 XP EPS competed at an AMA /ATVA sanctioned event. The GBC Heartland Challenge, a 10-hour ATV endurance race, was set up on a brutal course to test rider and machine, mentally, physically and mechanically. Eight miles of mud, hills, trees, rock piles and obstacles needed to be ran at a grueling pace for 10 solid hours with no breaks, no rest, no time outs with half the race to be completed in the dark. The main event took place on Saturday, Nov. 8 with teams formed of two-to-three riders. The Polaris/Rath/Dunlop team consisted of Daryl Rath, Frank Batista and Jason Dunkelberger.

It was shortly after twelve noon when the signal gun was fired and riders made a running sprint to the machines to get this race underway. The pit crew watched anxiously as Rath headed out of sight and into the woods before they headed to their stations to start what would be a long day of watching and waiting.

As the race continued the Sportsman 850 XP EPS handled everything the track handed it, and the team was running in second place and gaining on the lead.

It was Batista’s turn to keep pushing forward and that he did, closing the gap even more and then taking over the lead. The team continued to lead as they clicked off laps and watched the clock. It was time again for Dunkelberger to get back on and go to work.

Everyone was excited, the fans braved the cold to cheer the riders on, and watch as the different teams proved what they were made of. It was time for a set-back – Dunkelberger got on the machine and just before he clocked in a complete lap, it suffered a small mechanical mishap, a broken belt causing the loss of the entire lap’s time of 23 minutes. Running a flawless race until this lap the Sportsman 850 XP EPS was a fierce competitor in the Utility class. Even after the loss of those precious 23 minutes, there were only two brands left on the lead Utility Lap.

With a little more than two hours to go, the team was unable to regain the lead, but accomplished the goals set by themselves and Polaris: run a great race and prepare for the 2009 season aboard the newly-appointed contender in the GNCC National Cross Country Utility Class.

For more information about the Polaris/Rath/Dunlop team at

The Polaris/Rath/Dunlop team is sponsored by: Polaris Industries – Rath Racing – Dunlop Tires – Fox Shox – FMF Exhausts -DWT Douglas Wheel Technologies– B&B Racing Engines –Wiseco –  RPM- Fly Racing –Torco Fuels – Dirty Dawg Performance -Hinson Clutch Components – Xstream Composites- Precision Racing Products – Amsoil – WPS – QuadTech – UpDog – Powermadd – Tireballs – Faast Co. – Scott Goggles – PEP – CV4 – K&N Filters



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