The pride of France is at stake this year, as not one, but two of its world renowned drivers climbs Colorado’s most famous mountain at the end of June.
Romain Dumas, winner of the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, will join Sebastien Loeb at Pikes Peak competing against his compatriot’s Peugeot 208 T16 in a Norma prototype.
Dumas returns to Pikes Peak after last year’s incredible drive when he turned in a blistering 9:46.181 in the Pikes Peak Open Division driving a Porsche 911 GT3R. He shattered the old mark of 9:51.278 set by the legendary Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima in 2011, the first driver ever to break the ten-minute mark.
He glory was short-lived though, when Pikes Peak veteran Rhys Millen reached the 14,110-foot summit in his 2003 Hyundai Genesis Coupe in a breathtaking 9:46.164, a mere .017 seconds better than Dumas.
Dumas vowed to return and he’s found a car that should put the frighteners on Millen, Loeb and Monster Tajima.
Norma is a name familiar with any fan of the FIA trophy European mountain championship and after years of competing with rear-wheel drive petrol engines they’ve developed a new Hybrid powerplant. With an electric motor powering the front wheels, Norma’s hybrid system turns the M20C-HY into a 4WD race car. Norma have yet to confirm the full specification of Dumas’ car, but it will need to faster than anything they’ve previously built if it’s to beat Loeb’s 868bhp Peugeot 208 T16.
WATCH THIS: If you’ve never seen the BMW Norma M20 tackle a hillclimb, then you’re in for a treat – SEE VIDEO.
As with the Norma M20 FC, the carbon chassis is made by Rexiaa Issoire, while the engine is likely to be either V6 or V8 based.
“After several long weeks of work, I’m happy to be able to announce my return to Pikes Peak,” says Dumas. “I always said that my participation in 2012 would not be my last. That’s the case today, with an interesting project and a different philosophy from other competitors.”
“After coming so close to the ultimate dream, I was focused on coming back. I have to stay humble toward that impressive mountain, but I want to win overall. I know the challenge is perhaps even more difficult than last year. I was discovering Pikes Peak for the first time and I had no other goal but to gain experience and have fun. This year, my ambitions are bigger and the field of racers is at an extraordinary level.”
While Loeb continues preparations of his 863bhp Peugeot 208 T16, Millen will field an all-new, 900bhp ultra-lightweight, purpose-built racecar using major power train components from Hyundai’s production-based Lambda engine family.
Nine-time Unlimited champion ‘Monster’ Tajima will continue in the Electric Auto Division, after his entry in that field was cut short by an onboard fire last year.
The 13-entry Unlimited Division includes another Frenchman, ice-racing supremo Jean-Philippe Dayraut, who finished 3rd in 2011′s Unlimited class.
If you’re wondering how you’ll get to see the spectacle, 2013′s event will be broadcast live, thanks to Red Bull Media House (Loeb’s sponsors), so come 30th June make sure you’re tuned into the livestream on RedBull TV.
Image credit: Rainer Ehrhardt