Article by Brian Hannon. Photos by Corey Davis, James Harris, Eric Gearhart and Stephan Sullivan.
The 2013 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is a race we won’t soon forget. We saw records shattered, unpredictable weather, redemption for some, scary crashes for others, and a huge audience both on and off the mountain (and around the world). There was also a feeling of great expectation for the future, but we’ll get into that a little later.
There’s no denying the fact the participation of one Sebastien Loeb brought a lot of attention to this year’s race. Red Bull’s media blitz leading up to the Hill Climb helped bring in an audience that normally doesn’t pay much attention to a unique event like the PPIHC. That’s not to say his chosen ride for the race didn’t raise some eyebrows. Constructed by Peugeot Sport, his AWD 208 T16 Pikes Peak not only decimated the previous record, but it also broke through a barrier many thought would last a long time – nine minutes.
However, some say since it’s now completely paved, the race is not the same. We can’t argue with that, it isn’t the same race it was. The car control previously required to slide up the mountain was otherworldly. In some ways, it makes Monster Tajima’s 10-minute barrier-breaking record run in 2011 all the more impressive on a mixed track of dirt, gravel, and pavement. But this change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The window is now open for new challenges. Case in point, Loeb’s jaw-dropping run of 8:13.878. With the asphalt laid all the way to the top, there are higher limits of adhesion, and the racers can achieve speeds unheard of even three years ago. Now, do other manufacturers come in and try to eclipse the eight-minute barrier? How fast can the more privately funded teams go? For the Hill Climb to move upward and onward, maybe the best thing to happen was paving.
Speaking of Tajima, last year he came out with an all-new electric vehicle to try and prove to the masses that EVs have a place on the hill. (We already know this is true; it’s just a matter of time until the bigger teams really commit to EVs.) Last year, he had to bow out because he had technical malfunctions at the start of his run. This year, with the same vehicle with minor alterations, he not only set the record for electric vehicles, but he also broke last year’s KOTM record, as well. Imagine what he could have done last year if everything was in working order.
Rhys Millen came out with his purpose-built Hyundai PM580T to set a new record and confront Loeb and Peugeot head-on. While the time Loeb laid down proved insurmountable, he destroyed his previous record by more than 40 seconds, which is a major feat in itself. He did mention he left a little time on the mountain so we look forward to seeing him well into the eights in 2014!
Jean-Philippe Dayraut also came out with less fanfare than his contemporaries, but he came to play ball. He overcame his crash last year and ran up the mountain with a 9:42.740, besting last year’s record in a Mini Countryman powered by an R35 GT-R engine. Attention Mini: You need to build this car for consumers!
One man who raised a lot of eyebrows was Carlin Dunne. Last year, he set the motorcycle record on a Ducati Multistrada, running a staggering 9:52.819. This year, Lightning Motorcycles picked him up, and he took his chances on an electric bike in one of the fastest-growing classes. While he didn’t break his existing record for a motorcycle, he did set a record for fastest electric bike with a 10:00.694 and took the 2013 KOTM motorcycle title – by a whopping 14 seconds!
A few drivers found redemption on the mountain in 2013, and Paul Dallenbach was one of them. After crashing out in dramatic fashion in 2012, he returned undaunted in Rhys Millen’s Time Attach Hyundai Genesis from last year and pretty much matched Rhys’ time almost exactly. For a guy who crashed out of the last two hill climbs, this was huge.
After TWO massive crashes, yes, TWO, Pat Doran actually got his RS200 back together and successfully ran a 10:14.187.
Rod Millen was another familiar face back on the mountain. He rekindled his class rivalry with Monster Tajima, this time racing electric cars instead of their traditional unlimited beasts. While he couldn’t best Tajima this year, he raced his Toyota TMG EV002 to a time of 10.24, finishing fourth in class. Not a bad return!
After Romain Dumas’ beat-by-a-hair finish last year to Rhys Millen, Dumas came back with a vengeance and one hell of a machine this year. His practice times by the end of the week showed he had a chance of challenging Loeb for the top spot and was a bit ahead of Rhys. Unfortunately, because of a technical malfunction, he made it only a mile up the course. We hope he’ll return next year with an even bigger chip on his shoulder.
After becoming an Internet celebrity with one of the scariest crashes on Pikes Peak last year, Jeremy Foley shook off the experience and returned in a Pontiac Solstice. Unfortunately for him, he threw a rod and couldn’t complete the race, once again. We’re happy to report, though, he gently pulled off to the side of the road this year.
Cody Loveland brought a ridiculous car last year and didn’t disappoint us this year. Unfortunately, his tube-framed, one-off, carbon-fiber, twin-turbo, LS1-powered Enviate suffered a mechanical malfunction in the first practice of the week when a control arm failed and he went piling into a rock less than a mile up the course. To add insult to injury (luckily, his were minor), the car caught fire and was essentially irreparable in time to race.
If you live in Colorado’s Front Range, you know that during the summer we always get afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Mother Nature did not disappoint this year. We knew we were in for it when it started to snow on Sebastien Loeb during his post race interview.
After that, the rains came and had a direct impact on the classes, just look at the guys who finished mid-pack in Time Attack. They got stuck in the middle of the downpour. If the rain wasn’t enough, fog rolled in, and some drivers reported visibility was less than 100 feet; not good when you have 156 turns to negotiate!
So, what is in store for the future for the Hill Climb? Though the race has had its ups and downs over the years, the attention brought to this year’s event is possibly a real break-through.
We’re certain that other manufacturers won’t want to let Peugeot hold the record. Audi, we’re looking at you. This used to be YOUR mountain. Look at what Peugeot did in a short amount of time with a relatively small team and borrowing a lot of off-the-shelf parts from their Le Mans program. Last we checked, Audi, you guys were pretty decent at Le Mans. Just saying.
Honda’s presence this year was awesome, as well, racing just about everything they make! And you can tell they were having fun, they were racing a freakin’ turbocharged Odyssey! This kind of enthusiasm is what the event needs.
One addition we’d like to see is more American manufacturers involved directly in the Unlimited class. Ford has extensive WRC and RallyCross experience that could lend itself to an ultra-competitive car. And we know Chevrolet can back a solid competitor, look no further than the marque’s past dominance at Le Mans with the Corvette. Heck, they could even build a Volt racecar for the Electric class to tout their technology.
All in all, we’re excited about the future, and we know a lot of the race sponsors are, too. Next year’s event promises even more, and you need to try to make it to Colorado to experience it in person!
Top Three Finishers By Class Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2013
Sebastien Loeb – 8:13.878, 1st overall
Rhys Millen – 9:02.192, 2nd overall
Jean-Philippe Dayraut – 9:42.740, 3rd overall
Paul Dallenbach – 9:46.001, 4th overall
David Donner – 9:53.581, 7th overall
Jeff Zwart – 10:13.856, 10th overall
Nobuhiro "Monster” Tajima– 9:46.530, 5th overall
Hiroshi Masuoka – 10:21.866, 13th overall
Greg Tracy – 10:23.649, 14th overall
Clint Vahsholtz – 11:07.305, 32nd overall
Donner Billingsley – 12:06.840, 68th overall
Rodney O’Maley – 12:22.250, 77th overall
Pikes Peak Open
Randy Schranz – 11:21.410, 41st overall
Layne Schranz – 11:29.245, 44th overall
Robert Prilika – 11:33.437, 47th overall
Kenshiro Gushi – 12:03.085, 65th overall
Simon Pagenaud – 12:54.325, 96th overall
Sage Marie – 14:06.446, 123rd overall
Pikes Peak Vintage
Ralf Christensson – 12:08.507, 69th overall
Christopher Lennon – 12:16.837, 75th overall
John Jack Rogers – 12:30.306, 83rd overall
Pikes Peak 1205
Bruno Langlois – 10:21.323, 12th overall
Wes Orloff – 11:40.009, 52nd overall
Bobby Goodin – 11:46.728, 57th overall
Pikes Peak Superbike 750
Michael Henao – 10:31.499, 18th overall
James McKay – 11:09.460, 34th overall
Erik Dunshee – 11:41.938, 54th overall
Jeff Grace – 10:57.928, 26th overall
Joseph Bernard Toner – 11:04.319, 29th overall
Eric Piscione – 11:05.278, 30th overall
Pikes Peak 450
Jeffrey Tigert – 10:32.964, 19th overall
Davey Durelle – 10:38.697, 22nd overall
Dan Berendes – 10:56.724, 25th overall
Pikes Peak 250
Codie Vahsholtz – 11:24.792, 42nd overall
Jason Archuleta – 11:52.715, 60th overall
Matt Meinert – 12:02.029, 64th overall
Michael Coburn – 11:05.874, 31st overall
Mike Ell – 11:09.995, 35th overall
Theo Bernhard – 11:38.810, 50th overall
Dave Stock – 12:42.969, 89th overall
Bobby Spann – 12:53.110, 94th overall
Lloyd Hale – 13:00.684, 99th overall
Wade Boyd – 11:26.987, 43rd overall
Masahito Watanabe – 11:41.837, 53rd overall
Christophe Lebert – 12:15.250, 74th overall
Carlin Dunne – 10:00.694, 9th overall
Jake Holden – 10:24.058, 15th overall
James Compton – 10:33.832, 20th overall
Jeff Clark – 12:00.978, 63rd overall
Jeremiah Johnson – 12:05.612, 67th overall
Troy Siahaan – 12:24.083, 79th overall
Cheers from Team Revvolution at the "Classy Corner" as we officially call an end to the 91st Running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.