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The Legendary Hill Climbs of Pikes Peak Mountain

Pikes Peak Mountain is highest summit of the eastern United States, located in Pike National Forest of Downtown Colorado Springs, the summit stands 14115feet tall (4,302.31 m), covering a distance of 12-miles (19.3 Kms). This incredible bit of real estate has been the home to the most hardcore Petrolheads around the globe.

The Annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second longest running race in the World, the incredible series of bends that lead up to the 14115ft tall summit have remained a test of serious skill and valour for the drivers and riders, while being equally challenging for the machine.

The self-sanctioned racing on the Pikes Peak mountain has been taking place since 1916 with various classes of Cars, Trucks, Quads and Motorcycles competing over its 12mile (19.3km) long course. The hill climb which started out as an all-dirt course was converted to part dirt and part tarmac, in the year 2011 the whole course was converted to all tarmac, which meant that the speeds of racing and danger has considerably increased with this upgrade.

Michele Mouton and the Audi Quattro E2

This was the time when the World Rallying Championship was having its biggest shock, Audi had entered rallying by introducing the new layout of all-wheel drive system ‘Quattro’. The Audi Quattro cars were blowing the competition out of the water with their incredible cornering speeds and precise handling. Nobody got to better grips with driving the all-wheel drive cars like Michele Mouton, she was at home with understanding the handling characteristics of the car, which was completely different to the conventional two-wheel drive layout.

Michele Mouton and the Audi Quattro combination was so spectacular that she came terrifying close to winning the WRC title in 1982. It was only logical that Audi and Michele wanted to try their hand at the legendary Pikes Peak mountain course. This also was around the time when majority of the mountain was a dirt course, the video displays the Audi Quattro’s spectacular all-wheel drive drifts along the snaking like mountain road.

Rod Millen and the 4WD Celica

The New Zealand based Racing Driver initially started out racing in the New Zealand Rally Championship, winning a Hat Trick of Championships in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Rod later moved to the more competitive racing scene in America, like all other rally racing drivers around the world, he too fancied racing at the Pikes Peak Mountain. He first competed in the hill climb in the year 1994 where his weapon of choice was the Toyota Celica AWD Turbo. This was no ordinary people carrying four door sedan off course. Instead, the Celica was an out and out monster created specifically for the Pikes Peak Mountain. The car had a full fledged tubular chassis with the a carbon fibre sheet body that made the car ultralight, tipping the scales at just 885 kgs, while honing a monster 888HP engine. You can imagine the effects of a 1hp-per-ton car on a mixed gravel road back while trying to wrap your head around how insanely quick it must be. The car set flashing time of 10:04.060, which is nothing short of spectacular considering that the course back then was a mix of tarmac and dirt.

Ari Vatanen and the Peugeot 405 T16

This Finnish racing driver has seen success in multiple formats of motor racing, a testament to his incredible driving skills. Ari Vatanen won the World Rally Championship in the year 1981, Paris Dakar Rally four times and has also been an overall winner of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the year 1988 where he finished the part tarmac and part dirt course in 10:47.220.

The Peugeot 405 T16 that he piloted couldn’t have been more suitable for the Pikes Peak mountain as it was essentially the Peugeot 205 T16 WRC Group B car which put out upwards of 600HP, had four-wheel drive and also a four-wheel steering. Ari Piloting the Peugeot was spectacular enough to be captured in an award winning short film called ‘Climb Dance’.

Rhys Millen and eO PP03

The first and the only Electric Car to bag the overall Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was piloted by none other than Rhys Millen, who is America’s top Drift racing driver. Rhys Millen is no stranger to motorsports and Pikes Peak in particular as his father Rod Millen has competed and won five overall victories in the Pikes Peak hill climb. The electric car eO PP03 employs 6 electric motors to produce a peak power of 1367HP and an earth-shifting 2160NM of torque, and the lack of engine noise meant that this machine could give ‘Flash’ a run for his money.

The car carried a 50kWh Lithium-ion Battery pack and was driven by all wheels with a limited slip differential while having a single speed transmission. The chassis was essentially a Steel tubular spaceframe chassis with carbon fiber body, tilting the scales at a modest 1150kgs.

Sebastien Loeb and Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

If there is any driver who can recall every single minute aspect of a total of 156 corners over distance of 19.9kms and an elevation of 14115 feet and barely break a sweat, it could be the Multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb. He was one of those WRC drivers whose co-driver was nothing more than redundance as he was known to memorises multiple stages of the rallies of the WRC calendar and apex every corner of every stage at almost godlike precision.

He was truly a perfectionist of the rallying world, so it’s obvious that he would need a car worthy of his skill to compete in any event he entered. Weighing in at a 875kgs, the Peugeot 208 T16 sported a 3.2-litre, twin-turbo V6 engine that produced 875bhp. This incredible bit of kit from Peugeot was not just put together to take the overall victory that year but to post the fastest ever time of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Sebastien Loeb piloted this 208 to shatter the previous record of 9:46.164 by over a minute-and-half and set the new all-time Pikes Peak Hill Climb record at 8:13.878.

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The Legendary Hill Climbs of Pikes Peak Mountain


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