- Sebastien Loeb qualifies fastest in Unlimited class qualifying
- 23 seconds separate Loeb and rival Romain Dumas
- Loeb fastest in the class on both runs
Where the only rules are that of safety the 13 Unlimited class competitors are readying for Sunday's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race after recent qualifying sessions. Sebastien Loeb and Peugeot dominated both qualifying runs as fastest in what is his first time participating in the Pikes Peak race.
"It's not like a race: qualifying isn't really a crucial part of what goes on here," said Loeb. "It's how you perform on the day that counts. You have to rely on your own skills but also the car, the weather and the road conditions as well. Anything can still happen, but obviously we're here to try and win: that's our mission and we'll be disappointed if we don't achieve it. So far we've got off to a really good start."
Completing the first 5.1-mile run in 3 minutes and 26.728 seconds, Loeb outmatched his closest rival, Romain Dumas (Le Mans GT class winner) in a Norma prototype, by a very large 23 seconds. And while some setup changes were made to the rear of the 208 T16 Pikes Peak before the second run, Loeb's time only improved slightly with 3 minutes and 26.15 seconds-17 seconds ahead of Dumas.
These runs took place on the lower part of the hill, while Friday competitors will be able to practice on the upper part of the hill.
Peugeot's project chief Jean-Christophe Pallier concluded: "Sebastien completed two clean qualifying runs with no problems at all. We're happy with the setup of the car but we're not taking anything at all for granted. I'm sure we have not seen the ultimate pace of our rivals yet. Now the target is to stay fully focused to achieve our objectives. There's a slight advantage in starting first, as it means that you definitely won't be affected by other peoples' racing incidents, but that doesn't take anything away from the massive challenge that lies ahead."