With a little under a month to go, the battleground is shaping up for one of the best ever Pikes Peak hill climbs. Peugeot and Sébastien Loeb have so far dominated the news, but their victory is far from assured – not by a long way.
Here are eight contenders with a chance of taking the crown and possibly setting an outright record for the race to the mountain’s 14,110-foot summit.
Siddens is no stranger to success on the Peak, winning the Exhibition Powersport division last year in his 260 horsepower buggy. He was the first UTV/ATV driver to reach the clouds in 2010 and he’s back in 2013 with a new Polaris based prototype that some observers think might challenge for outright victory.
If you’re wondering ‘how’ a 260hp ATV could compete against the 900bhp monsters in this class, in 2012 Siddens reached speeds of just over 100 mph along the twisty course, some 40mph less than the leading cars, but expect more power in 2013 and a driver intent on moving up a class.
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, earning himself ‘Rookie of the Year’. He’ll be driving the brand-new Norma M20FCPP prototype which he’s been testing today at the Pole Mécanique race track in Alès Cévennes, France.
Millen set the course record of 9:46.164 in winning the Time Attack division last year, and this year he returns with another Hyundai to repeat the achievement. In an interesting twist he’s loaned the car he drove to the record last year to the veteran Paul Dallenbach, who becomes one of the favourites in the Time Attack division – and might trouble the outright record again.
To take on the gruelling uphill battle that is Pikes Peak, Rhys Millen is developing a modified frame and body for his prototype racer based on the Genesis Coupe. He’s been filming the car’s development in a 12-part series which you can watch on Rhys Millen Racing.
You may remember the Dacia Duster which Dayraut used to good effect at Pikes Peak back in 2011. He finished 3rd in the Unlimited division with a time of 10’17”, 26 seconds behind Monster Nobuhiro Tajima. Dayraut is a four-time Andros Ice Racing champion and currently competes in the World Touring Car Championship in a privateer BMW 320 TC.
In 2013 he returns to Pikes Peak driving a specially-prepared 900 horsepower ”No Limit” MINI Countryman. Dayraut is no stranger to MINI, having switched to the Countryman for his Andros Ice Racing campaign in 2012, where he narrowly missed out to former Formula One driver Alain Prost in securing that year’s title.
The main attraction in this year’s Pikes Peak Unlimited Division is of course Sébastien Loeb. He competes as a rookie at the event, but as a nine-time World Rally Champion he could hardly be considered a novice. Loeb’s Peugeot entry marks the car maker’s return to Pikes Peak since back-to-back triumphs in its 405 T16 model in 1988 and 1989 by Ari Vatanen and Robby Unser. That was in the Open Rally division (now the Unlimited division) and like Loeb, Vatenen was the novice who upset the established order. Peugeot have form and it would be a brave man to bet against Loeb in their 863bhp prototype race car.
SEE ALSO: Sébastien Loeb gears up for Pikes Peak on Mont Ventoux – Sébastien Loeb’s first impressions of Peugeot’s 208 T16 Pikes Peak car – Peugeot confirms an 863bhp engine for its 208 T16 Pikes Peak contender
Monster Tajima returns in the car which caught fire at the start of last year’s run. As a former course record holder and the first driver to crack the ten-minute mark, Tajima has previously won the Unlimited division ‘nine times’. If the E-Runner can run trouble free, then he’s got to be a serious threat for the overall win.
The 61-year-old New Zealander is a five-time winner of the Unlimited division and father of (current record holder) Rhys Millen. This year he returns in a revised TMG EV P002, which set a Pikes Peak Electric Division record of 10mins 15.380 seconds last year in the hands of Fumio Nutahara. Toyota’s engineers have been busy extracting more performance from its powertrain which now delivers a maximum torque of 1200Nm, 545bhp (400kw) and a top speed of 144mph. Millen will be aiming for a new Pikes Peak EV record with a time well under 10 minutes.
Mitsubishi has entered six-time Pikes Peak motorcycle champion Greg Tracy in the Electric Autos Division in one of its two MiEV Evolution II four-wheel drive prototype race cars. Tracy, has never driven a four-wheeled vehicle up the climb, but finished second a year ago behind champion Carlin Dunne, who set the all-time motorbike record of 9:52.819.
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In total there are 13 entries in the Unlimited division and a record 23 entries in the Time Attack division. An outright winner could come from either class, but with such a strong Unlimited field, we’re expecting one of the above eight drivers to lift the crown.
Millen’s 9:46.164 record from last year must also be under threat, so while Peugeot and Loeb may look good on paper, they’ll have to climb Colorado’s most famous mountain faster than any car (or bike) has ever done before.
Unlike in previous years, 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.