Unlimited: Sébastien Loeb Crushes It
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb challenges drivers to race into the clouds over a unique 12.42 mile road course that features 156 corners, starts at an elevation of 9,390 feet and finishes at whopping 14,110 feet—nearly three miles above sea level. First run in 1916, this annual event is the second oldest motor race in America after the Indianapolis 500.
WRC phenom Sébastien Loeb absolutely crushed the record and the competition at the famed hill climb in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The Frenchman destroyed Rhys Millen’s 2012 record by an incredible 1:33. The second- and third-place finishers, Millen and Jean-Philippe Dayraut, also eclipsed the 2012 record but they were beaten to the top by 49 seconds and 1:32, respectively.
Loeb’s weapon of choice was an 875-horsepower Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Special built by Peugeot Sport and backed by Total. “When I was on the start line waiting to go, I could actually see the clouds closing in at the top of the mountain,” said Loeb. “I remember thinking that if we didn’t get going soon, it would be really difficult.” As it was, Loeb blasted his 208 T16 Pikes Peak through the clouds in a time that was even quicker than Peugeot Sport’s computer had thought was possible. The ideal theoretical time, calculated using data from Loeb’s practice runs up the Colorado mountain, was 8m15s. The nine-time world rally champion somehow managed to shave two seconds off that. “I’m really happy as that was a very good run in the end,” said Loeb. “I really didn’t expect anything better than 8m15s, so to do 8m13s was fantastic. Before the start I didn’t really know if I should push absolutely to the maximum or if I should just push to a comfortable pace, in order to make sure of the victory. In the end, I decided to push to the limit.”
Sébastien Loeb—8:13.878, 1st overall
Rhys Millen—9:02.192, 2nd overall
Jean-Philippe Dayraut—9:42.740, 3rd overall
Electric: Monster Tajima Tames The Mountain Again
Going into the race the Mitsubishi duo of MiEV Evolution II had 40 seconds on the field in practice, but it seems rain conditions nearly hindered their race effort. So it was a bit surprising, but not at all unfamiliar, to see Monster Tajima take the checkered flag at the top of the mountain. His Monster sports E-RUNNER Pikes Peak Special won the day and had substantial Mitsubishi signage on it as the automaker supplied the MLiX Lithium-ion battery packs that powered the one-off Tajima Motor Corporation built racer into the clouds.
The factory backed Mitsubishi cars both broke last year’s second place time in the EV Division of 10 minutes, 30.850, achieved in 2012 by Hiroshi Masuoka piloting the Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution on a dry road in optimal conditions. “Just before the start, since the road became completely wet, we had to swap the tires from slicks to grooved. Even with the grooved tires, the pavement was really wet and the car was sliding around quite a bit. It really was treacherous conditions to drive in, but both cars were able to make it to the top safely. Since we were aiming for the win, the result is quite disappointing. While due to this rain, it is easy to blame the result on our luck, we must also realize our weakness and continue to make improvements for the future.”
Nobuhiro Tajima—9:46.530, 5th overall
Hiroshi Masuoka—10:21.866, 13th overall
Greg Tracy—10:23.649, 14th overall
Rod Millen—10:24.301, 16th overall