The Future Of Snowmobile Racing Engines

Snowmobile racing rules are set to change in 2015 when the manufacturers will mandate fuel injection on 600cc race engines. There are many benefits to this including better fuel efficiency, easier tuning, power restriction and better re-sale. This means a Junior racer will likely be able to ride the same sled with the same engine as a Pro or Pro Lite racer since manufacturers will be able to “detune” the engine. Also, instead of a pure racing engine these engines will be closer to a “production” snowmobile engine so used race sleds should be more attractive to non-racing riders when it comes to re-sale. Of course, all this could change at the next ISR meeting, but for now this is the roadmap the rulesmakers have set moving forward. With that, let’s look at what may be powering your 2015 race sled.

We are all familiar with Ski-Doo's E-TEC engine. It's crazy fuel and oil efficiency and sewing machine run quality make it arguably the best consumer two-stroke available. Would it make a good race engine? The E-TEC's heavy injection coils mean the engine would suffer a slight weight penalty, but it's computer-controlled oiling and injection systems say it would be adaptable to whatever role it would face.

Here is a video explaining how the E-TEC system works:

One wild card when these rules were tentatively agreed to was Arctic Cat - they didn't even have a fuel-injected 600cc two-stroke in their lineup. Now they do.

Instead of an "exotic" direct injection system Cat engineers went with a surprisingly simple injection design. Injection is timed to keep raw fuel in the combustion chamber and out of the pipe (raw fuel getting sucked into the pipe is one of the main culprits in "dirty" emissions). When it comes to keeping fuel from getting sucked into the pipe the injection timing window is short, so this slotted piston design was developed to allow for more injection time. Side benefits include better pin oiling. Durability? Cat has multiple engines with over 10,000 miles ride time on them.

Cat's injection system uses a rail and two fuel injectors just like any other standard system. Oil is injected into the case as well as the rail and the pump is electronically controlled so oil is delivered on a curve, much like the E-TEC.

Here’s a video showing how Cat’s new injection system works:

We are all familiar with the Yamaha Nytro Genesis 130FI engine. Massive torque and 130+ horsepower make it a formidable powerplant, one that comes with sophisticated EFI and is tunable via a Dyno Jet controller. The Arctic Cat version and new Viper versions use Arctic Cat's injection computer and that is fully tunable. It's heavy though, about 50lbs more than a standard two-stroke.

The big question is what Polaris will do. They have an injection system now that works, the CleanFire, but is the least sophisticated of the four manufacturers. It is basically a semi-direct injection system.

Polaris passed on the rights to FICHT. Ski-Doo didn't, and they used those rights to build the E-TEC. Polaris currently has the rights to use Orbital Engine Corporation technology. It is a direct injection design that uses an air pump in conjunction with fuel injection to inject air into the cylinders. Orbital designed it mainly for use in multi-fuel applications. Is requires more componentry so it would likely be a heavier system. People in the know have told us the PRO RIDE chassis has space considerations for such a system. Would they race it? Likely not, since it would be virtually untested in race conditions at the time of release. Polaris will likely use their current EFI on the 2015 buggy.

Here’s a little bit of info regarding Orbital engine technology.

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