When the 12 Hours of America race moved to Texas last year, the course layout meant it would be much faster than in years past and begged for a big motor. An open-terrain race equals a horsepower battle, and the logical choice led CT Racing to the Yamaha Raptor 700R. With a proven long-distance track record using the venerable Honda TRX450R-including the last two SCORE off-road championships and a 2005 Best in the Desert title-CT had enough experience to take a crack at endurance-racing the Raptor.
As on their Baja quads, the crew at CT Racing was able to do a conservative build job, yet still develop massive power with this Raptor. It spits out over 60 horsepower and nearly 50 foot-pounds of torque, measured at the rear wheel-something not possible from a 450 without reliability issues, which are not good in off-road racing.
MotorTo achieve these impressive numbers, CT Racing started from the top, porting the head and unleashing its high-tech Newen CNC contour valve machine to tie the porting into a five-angle radius valve job, as many NASCAR teams are currently doing. Next, a Web Cams Sonic-grind camshaft and Web valve springs with titanium retainers were added. CT avoids heavy valve springs on its builds when possible; they add drag, as the motor must overcome the added spring pressure and quickening wear on the valvetrain. In this case, it was a necessary evil to work with the high-lift cam.
A JE 13:1 piston was picked to make this thing bark out of the corners. However, the high-compression piston mandates burning a minimum of 100-octane fuel. If this race had long straights like the dry lake beds and fast roads of Baja, the compression probably would have been dropped to 12:1 for the extended, wide-open throttle periods. CT uses VP Racing Fuels' C12 (because that's what the shop stocks), and the motor was tuned around this race gas. VP has several other fuels that would work well, including Ultimate 4 and both leaded and unleaded packages.
Keeping the air-fuel mixture just so is a Dynatek fuel injector controller. The Dynatek system is one of the easiest to tune; it can be adjusted with just a flat-blade screwdriver. A Dyna FS ignition module controls the ignition and eliminated the speed sensor-built into the Raptor 700R's ignition as a safety device. These electronics enabled CT's Allen Knowles to tune the fuel management to match the motor work. A Pro Design Pro Flow foam filter kit kept the motor and throttle body from inhaling any dirt in its big gulps of clean air. The final touch to the power game was the tunable CT Sonic exhaust system (the same system that worked well in our Raptor 700 pipe shootout in the March '06 issue). The key is the reverse-cone megaphone-style pipe tuned with the disc system. This not only puts out big power but is spark-arrested. This unit was set up for closed-course racing so it was a tad louder than we like, but the good news is noise level can be adjusted to meet local sound requirements by simply removing discs. Before everything was buttoned up, a Hinson clutch basket was installed to eliminate any chance of clutch failure.
SuspensionAll that power needs a suspension arrangement on equal terms. Widening the stance is the answer, so Laeger +2 long-travel A-arms were mounted to provide the front width and handling (and a place to bolt on some long shock). In the back end, a DuraBlue +4 Eliminator axle was slid into the swingarm to provide the width, stability and strength required to rocket through the corners for 12 hours of abuse. The stock Raptor swingarms have been holding up well, so it was left in place. To make the swingarm and A-arms go up and down under control, good shocks were needed. Noleen J-6 units were chosen over a lot of available shocks. J-6 may not be a familiar name, but its owner, Clark Jones, is. He also once owned the similarly named NoLeen, which was the importer of Ohlins shocks for years, before he sold it to mountain-bike maker K-2 and worked with the company to develop a line of bicycle shocks. Jones is back in the quad game, living in Southern California (good for teams to test and develop with him) and knowing his way around shocks (having worked with Doug Gust and Joe Byrd the last couple of years). It was a natural option to try his J-6 shocks on the Raptor project.
WheelsThe last part of the "get the power to the ground" formula was Maxxis Razr tires mounted on DWT (the new name for Douglas Wheel) beadlock wheels. Beadlocks not only keep the tire from coming off the bead under the tough conditions of aggressive riding, but they also allow you to race at a very hard clip, even with a flat.
ControlsDropping $300 may seem like a steep investment for a handlebar, but the fatigue-cutting Fasst Flexx bars have proven to be worth their hefty price tag and are an excellent choice for endurance racing. More rider comfort was added in the form of Spider dual-density grips. Acoustically engineered to rebound and absorb tiring vibrations, the special tacky compounds allow the rider to hang on with less effort, too. Longer A-arms mean longer brake lines. The braided stainless steel Streamline brake lines paired with Streamline brake pads fit the bill and improve brake performance, as well as help to ensure the Motul brake fluid doesn't boil.
LightsNight-riding is part of the 12 Hours of America, so bright lights are a must. Baja Designs' 4-inch Fuego HIDs were chosen for several reasons. One was that HID (as in High Intensity Discharge) lights put out a significant amount of illumination, yet draw significantly less juice than other lighting systems. The other was size. In Baja it's possible to travel over terrain you may not have seen prior to the race, and at a potentially higher rate of speed, the 6-inch Baja Designs units are more common. However, this is a lap course with a track you'd have become familiar with by sundown and no need to worry about cattle and unknown dangers after dark. The more compact Fuego lights are much less likely to be damaged in a rollover and, like their larger siblings, are adjustable on the fly. The 4-inch pair provides a very good pattern. One light throws out a very wide rectangular flood pattern that's quite distinctive and is perfect for low speed. The other is a narrow spot to light up the path way out ahead-a necessary feature for speed; you do not want to outrun your lights. The stock lights were left in and working in case the Fuegos got damaged. Although the Raptor doesn't have the charging capability to run all four lights at the same time for an extended period (without a stator rewind), this isn't a problem for this race.
How It WorkedCT brought the Raptor out while we were doing our 24-Hour test at Gorman, California. We put about an hour and a half on it just getting in a shakedown test before it was shipped to Indianapolis to be displayed at the Motorcycle ATV Dealers trade show. For a machine like this, the course was a good testing ground, utilizing about every feature-with the exception of big jumps (but this isn't a motocrosser so we didn't feel shortchanged).
Even though it has lots of ponies, the CT 700 doesn't act like a high-strung race quad and is very easy to ride. It is deceptively fast, with its high torque power delivery. Yet the Raptor doesn't rip arms out of sockets as fast as a TRX250R that's sporting about 15 less horsepower. It simply pulls well. Heck, it doesn't even ask to be in the correct gear; whereas a stocker would beg for a downshift when slowing down, this one doesn't care. Just leave it in third, even when second would be the best gear, and mash the throttle. The big girl just powers away. And she has plenty on top, too, providing a healthy afterburnerlike acceleration kick from fourth gear to the rev-limiter in fifth, where the big torque of this motor really shines. This quad also demonstrates what perfectly tuned electronic fuel injection is all about, with no hiccups or stumbling, regardless of pilot antics.
The chassis has the normal good-handling characteristics of an ATV loosely patterned after the Honda TRX250R's geometry. We blasted over rocks and miles of whooped-out trails, and the CT Raptor provided a pretty good ride. Our test loop did highlight one spot that needed some refining: the shocks. Set up more for motocross, they were too stiff, and Knowles and company will be making some changes for the cross-country-type program this quad will race. They are going to raise it about an inch to add a little plushness-a good thing when racing for 12 hours. With a good rear shock setup, this quad glues the front end down a lot better than stock. Even with this power, the 700R doesn't act as if it needs a longer swingarm. The Laeger long-shock front end has a little less camber than stock, so it steers more quickly and more precisely. It did rail around corners much better than a stock Raptor does, which allowed us to throw it into the turns with no hint of body roll or tipping. The downside to this slot car or TT racer handling? A bit bumpier in the corners than we'd like; however, that's curable with more time to try different settings on the clickers. But the clock beat us, and we had to turn over the racer before we had a chance to really dial in our preferences.
And what about the lights? If you like to ride at night and have the budget, the Baja Designs Fuego HIDs are the way to go. Sure, it's pricey, but it is the best lighting system for the money as it allows you to ride fast at night safely, and that's impressive. Our tester, who has a lot of night-racing experience, stated that though he outruns most of the recreational lights on the market, it was not a problem with these Baja Designs units. Not only did the Fuegos provide a distinct pattern, but the pair also pumped out a much wider and longer beam than what's usually observed from a flood-and-spot combo. The biggest problem we had with the lights was not being able to run all four at the same time; the engine only charges the battery enough to run the stock lights (left on for emergency backup). So we had to bump-start it after running all four for a while. That, too, is a fixable problem.
The bottom line is that if you have a Yamaha Raptor 700R and are considering taking it racing or just want to ride aggressively, this is the perfect inspiration model to pattern yours after-or blatantly copy.
CT Racing Raptor 700RPartsBaja Designs: www.bajadesigns.comFuego, E-start quad light kit, black HID: $849.95
CT Racing: www.ctracing.com
CT Sonic kit (includes cylinder honing, JE Performance 12:1 piston kit, CT head porting, Web Sonic-grind camshaft, Sonic five-angle contoured valve job, Web valve spring kit with titanium retainers and a top end gasket set): $1145; Raptor 700 Sonic exhaust system (includes stainless steel header, silencer, discs, Dynatek fuel management system and Pro DesignPro Flow K&N filter): $920.95
DuraBlue: www.durablue.comEliminator 2+2 axle: $425.92
Douglas Wheels: www.douglaswheel.com
Ultimate SC front: $106.00 ea.
Ultimate SC CBL rear: $164.30 ea.
Yamaha YFM700R Raptor programmable rev box: $349.99
Hinson Clutch Components: www.hinsonracing.com
Clutch basket: $239.99
Fasst Co: www.fasstco.com
Flexx bars: $299.99
Long-travel +2 A-arms: $872
Maxxis Tires: www.maxxistire.com
Razr2 22x7-10 front: $70.99 ea.
Razr 20x11-9 rear: $58.99 ea.
Noleen: www.noleenshockservice.comJ-6 front shocks: $1395; J-6 rear shock: $895
Spider Grips: www.spidergrips.comA3 dual-density grips: $10.95
Streamline Brake Lines: www.streamlinebrakes.com
Front brake lines: $92.99
Rear brake line: $42.99
Brake pads (x3): $28.95/set