Now that the Pikes Peak hill climb course is 100 percent paved, the sky's the limit as to what vehicles can attempt the winding mountain road. With that said, Honda is bringing out the big guns this year, entering the Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-04b that normally races in the IMSA TUDOR series' LMP2 class.
Last year, a Honda-powered Norma sports prototype driven by Romain Dumas won the unlimited class. Honda has campaigned a number of other interesting builds over the years, including a Honda Odyssey minivan powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter HPD V-6 similar to the one used in the ARX-04b. The closed-cockpit prototype is the latest iteration of Honda's LMP2-class car, and made its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Driving the race car up the 14,110-foot mountain will be IndyCar driver Justin Wilson.
Honda says the ARX-04b is the first full-carbon monocoque vehicle ever sanctioned for competition at Pikes Peak. The Genesis RMR PM 580 entered by Rhys Millen a few years ago had the look of a Le Mans prototype, but used a steel tube frame chassis. The time to beat for Justin Wilson is 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds, a record that was set by rally driver Sebastien Loeb at the wheel of a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak in 2013.
"This is an exploratory effort, to learn as much as we can in advance of a possible future assault on the outright record," said Art St. Cyr, president of HPD, in a release. "We want to see how well our ARX-04b chassis adapts to the rigors of the climb, and the high-altitude demands placed on our production-based V-6 engine."
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on June 28.