With Pikes Peak scheduled for the end of June, it looks like this year is going to come down to a three way battle for the “Race to the Clouds”. Currently we have Rhys Millen looking to beat his record breaking time of 9:46.164 which he set last year against Pikes Peak legend Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima who famously beat Rod Millen’s (Rhys father) 13 year course record in 2007 and was then the first man to go under 10 minutes with his time of 9:51.278 in his GoPro Monster Sport SX4. To make this year’s event even more exciting we have Sébastien Loeb, 9 times World Rally Champion and 3 times Race of Champions winner in a Peugeot 208 T16.This event marks the French team’s return to the classic American event after its memorable victories there in 1988 and 1989.
No punches have been pulled with any of these vehicles which will compete in the event’s premier ‘Unlimited’ class, a category that allows plenty of freedom on the technical front. The engineers of the different teams have naturally taken on-board the salient features of this legendary competition, the USA’s oldest after the Indy 500 and a truly unique cocktail because of its incredibly twisty, high-altitude course which was tarmacked for the first time last year.
After last year’s failed attempt to tackle the legendary hills of Pikes Peak in an electric car, ‘Monster’ Tajima is back with a Toyota based custom race car based on the Toyota FRS. ‘Monster’s’ GT86 is based on the road-going version in the same way that Sébastien Loeb’s Peugeot’s 208 T16 is related to the family hatchback. This FRS is powered by a mid-engine turbocharged V6 developing 670 horsepower. Fielded by Tajima’s own Monster Sport Team, the new GT 86 race car goes by the name Super 86 and has been designed for the Pikes Peak Unlimited class, where virtually anything goes.
Full details of the car are being kept secret but it is understood an all-wheel-drive system has been installed. However, with French automaker Peugeot returning to Pikes Peak this year with a 208 T16, rated at 875 horsepower and being driven by the unstoppable Sébastien Loeb, that figure of 670hp might climb closer to the event. On the flip side Peaugot have described their car as “practically an out-and-out endurance racing prototype.” The 3.2-litre, twin-turbo V6 engine develops 875bhp to help power a car weighing 875 kilogrammes. Peugeot Sport engineer Jean-Christophe Pallier said: “Your imagination is the only limit when you set out to design a car for Pikes Peak. “We’ve shaved the car down to 875 kilogrammes and as a result we’ve achieved the magic and symbolic power to weight ratio of 1:1, one bhp for every one kg of weight.”
Now that he has taken a step back from world class rallying after dominating the World Rally Championship for almost a decade, Sébastien Loeb is keen to turn his attention to new challenges. In addition to his involvement in this year’s GT World Series, he snapped up the opportunity to contest the celebrated Pikes Peak Hill Climb and discover its 156 corners which he will tackle without the help of a co-driver. The Frenchman will also have to cope with a strength-sapping altitude difference of some 1,500 metres in less than 20 kilometres, with the finish line situated at an altitude of 4,301 metres!
Last year, Millen won the overall Pikes Peak championship in a production-based Hyundai Genesis coupe. For 2013, Millen is building an Unlimited entry (RIGHT), styled after his Hyundai Genesis Coupe, in an attempt to extend his domination of the event. For 2013’s effort, Millen will produce and drive an all-new, ultra-lightweight, purpose-built racecar using major powertrain components from Hyundai’s production-based Lambda engine family. This powertrain is expected to produce over 900hp and 800 ft-lbs of torque, while still making significant use of production components including the block, cylinder heads, bearings and engine accessories. The racecar chassis will be enveloped by a Genesis Coupe-like silhouette.
Hyundai have just released a series of 12 short films titled Defending Pikes Peak, so this is certainly something to keep your eye on. All in all, it should be an amazing race. The 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado is currently scheduled for June 30.