After months of anticipation, nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb has climbed the 12.42-mile, 156-turn Pikes Peak Hill Climb course in an astounding 8:13.878, destroying last year’s record time of 9:46.164 set by Rhys Millen.
Millen, who returned in a Hyundai Genesis Prototype to defend his crown managed a personal best time of 9:02.192 with Jean-Philippe Dayraut recording 9:42.740 in the MINI Countryman. Romain Dumas, who was second on the road, retired in his Norma Prototype with a broken engine.
Paul Dallenbach, who drove last year’s record breaking Rhys Millen Racing-prepared Genesis Coupé, reached the summit in 9:46.001 and in doing so established a new world record in the Time Attack class.
“At the beginning of my run there was a bit of pressure for sure because I knew there was so much work and investment from Peugeot and all the partners. Now, after all the practice, it was just down to me and I had to perform,” said Loeb.
Loeb is the first driver to reach the summit in less than 9 minutes, a feat that few even thought possible before last week. In last week’s final practice the Frenchman managed 8:25 in his 208 T16 Pikes Peak, so clinching the outright record was always on the cards. Loeb averaged more than 87mph over the 12.42-mile course.
“I knew I could achieve a 8:15 or at least 8:20, but it was still a big pressure from the start,” said Loeb. “I really didn’t expect anything better than 8:15, so to do 8m13s was fantastic.” When asked if the time could be bettered, he said “Sure, by the time I reached the summit is was snow..”
With deteriorating weather conditions the Frenchman was unsure just how hard to push, but at least he started first on the road in the Unlimited class. “Before the start I didn’t really know if I should push absolutely to the maximum or if I should just push to a comfortable pace, in order to make sure of the victory. In the end, I decided to push to the limit.”
“I think it’s fair to say that we were racing for second place today,” said Rhys Millen, who completed the course in a personal best time of 9:02.192.
“Romain Dumas and I had been really close throughout practice, but then I heard that his engine had unfortunately broken at the start. I knew I wasn’t going to beat Sebastien’s time, so I just decided to take no risks. You have to hand it to Loeb and Peugeot Sport: they were unbeatable. That time they set was simply incredible. When will it be beaten? It might never be..”
Peugeot’s assault on Pikes Peak 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. Back then Ari Vatanen took his Peugeot 405 T16 up its treacherous twists and turns in 10 minutes 47.77 seconds, but the course was mainly dirt rather than the all-tarmac surface of today’s run.
While Loeb’s record time seems unassailable, it’s not over yet for excitement at Pikes Peak, the electric powered cars from Mitsubishi, Toyota and Monster Tajima are still due to run [Find out the results]. But with snow now falling at the top the course, we’ll have to wait until 2014 before anyone gets near to Peugeot and Loeb.
For Peugeot this was a one-shot adventure (designed to raise the profile of the new 208 model) and clearly Loeb has nothing more to prove, but they’ve raised the threshold for achievement at America’s second-oldest car race.
Some say a sub-8 minute time could now be possible, but that’s just crazy… isn’t it?
Results (Unlimited/Time Attack/Electric classes) – June 30th 2013
|Section 1||Section 2||Section 3||Section 4||Car|
208 T16 Pikes Peak
|Paul Dallenbach||Time Attack||9:46.001||73.720||1:44.806||2:22.767||2:47.980||2:50.448||Hyundai
Pikes Peak Special
RS 200 Evolution
|David Donner||Time Attack||9:53.581||72.779||1:44.871||2:20.927||2:54.694||2:53.089||Porsche
911 GT3 Cup
|Jeff Zwart||Time Attack||10:13.856||70.375||1:49.872||2:24.236||2:53.483||3:06.265||Porsche
911 GT3 Cup
MiEV Evolution II
MiEV Evolution II
TMG EV P002
|Dave Carapetyan||Unlimited||10:28.315||68.755||1:51.655||2:24.590||2:59.208||3:12.862||Rally Ready
|Timing & Scoring provided by North Country T&S and LiveTiming.net.|