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Check Out This Dune-Busting Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

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The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is competing in its third Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race.
Photo: Chevrolet

Sand and engines don’t mix, but that hasn’t stopped a certain Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 from logging 3,275 miles in some of the world’s most treacherous driving terrain. Ever since this production-based ZR2 debuted in 2017, it’s been busting dunes with driver Chad Hall.

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Outlasting the competition

As of the time of this writing, the Colorado ZR2 has competed in 11 Best in the Desert races. It was one of 434 vehicles to compete in those races, and as a testament to its rugged endurance, the Colorado ZR2 was one of only four vehicles to finish all 11 races.

The Colorado ZR2 finished its first Vegas to Reno race in 18 hours and 51 minutes — and it only got better from there. It completed its next run in 14 hours and 34.5 minutes. It regularly trounced the race time of trophy trucks, Jeep Wranglers, Ford Raptors, and dune buggies.

“Our goal with the Best in the Desert competition is to push the engineering and development of the Colorado platform in the most extreme conditions imaginable,” said Mark Dickens, Chevrolet chief engineer for Government Programs, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports. He added that the data from these races has helped shape the company’s off-road portfolio, parts, motorsports, production vehicles and GM Defense projects.

Built to survive

This legendary Colorado ZR2 began its journey as a Red Hot Crew Cab model, packing a 3.6-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed transmission. Since then, it’s picked up quite a few modifications — namely, it sported prototype suspension and driveline parts that have since developed into 15 factory race components. Now, its boasts updated versions of those parts, alongside a 1.5-inch Body Lift System, Front and Rear Jounce Shock Systems, a ZR2 Steel Driveshaft, a Plunging Ball Spline Half Shaft System and severe duty Tie Rod Sleeve Systems.

It also dons ZR2 Bison skid plates on its engine, transmission and differential. The truck’s other American Expedition Vehicles Colorado accessories include Crestone DualSport beadlock wheels, a snorkel for air filtration, and a wrap with the GM Defense logo and additional HID KC HiLiTES to improve nighttime visibility.

“In off-road racing, your speed comes from your suspension, not your engine. Usually, when you modify the suspension on a stock truck, the rest of the truck can’t keep up with it,” explained Chad Hall. “However, the Colorado is such a great platform, everything seems to work at the same level. This is true even during off-road races, which are some of the most punishing miles you’ll ever put on a truck.”

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Source: Chevrolet