For Rhys Millen yesterday’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb was one of the best days of his life, but spare a thought for those whose dreams nearly ended in disaster including six-time winner Paul Dallenbach.
Dallenbach, driving the No.98 Banks Power special, qualified his 1400bhp 1206lb-ft open wheeler on pole in the Unlimited class.
During qualifying the car was measured at 144mph on the upper third of the course, bettering the factory AWD Dacia Duster of J.P. Dayraut who managed just 136mph at the same spot.
So just imagine what happens when the throttle sticks open at 130mph..
During qualifying Dallenbach was 7.5 seconds faster than eventual winner (and new record holder) Rhys Millen, so as well as the damage to his car, Dallenbach will be feeling even worse this morning knowing that a course record would have been more than possible.
Devil’s Playground is one of the most dangerous sections of the 12.4 mile course, it’s twisty and narrow, but even more daunting are the long drops if a driver fails to make a turn.
Last year Bobby Regester starred in one of the most viewed Pikes Peak videos of all time, as his Pontiac Sunfire left the road at Devil’s Playground. Thankfully he climbed out of the window unscathed.
Jeremy Foley and his co-driver weren’t quite as lucky.
Driving a privately-entered Evolution Dynamics Mitsubishi Evolution IX, Foley left the road at exactly the same spot as Regster did a year earlier. Perhaps it was the extra speed, or the angle of take-off, but Jeremy and his co-driver sustained a series of heavy impacts as the Mitsubishi tumbled down the side of the mountain.
Both drivers were airlifted to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, which is more than can be said for the car.
Jeremy posted a message on his Facebook page this morning, saying “I thought I posted already, but Yuri and I are ok. A little beaten up but nothing major. Thank you so much to everyone for the kindness and support! What a wonderful feeling to feel so loved!”
We understand that Yuri has a dislocated shoulder and some head injuries, including concussion.