Skip to main content

You are here

TopGear.com at Pikes Peak: race report

  1. Well, how’s that for a paradigm shift - a rookie beat a seven-time champion’s world record, motorbikes are cracking into sub-ten-minute times, and the new all-tarmac course is catching out the local boys. Then there’s the rather large, rather terrifying crash, which thankfully Jeremy Foley walked away from with only minor injuries. 

    But first, the awkward matter of 2012 favourite, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, and his breaky-downy EV project… If you’re unfamiliar with Pikes Peak royalty, Monster is, without question, the mountain’s king. He’s held the course record for seven years, besting it each year on the trot, and the 9:51.278 he posted in 2011 was the first in history to creep under the ten-minute mark.

    He’s also set up his own motorsport firm called Monster Sport specialising in rally and hill climb cars. Under the auspices of which he built an electric-powered racer called the E-Runner to try and beat his previous time. And things looked like they were shaping up nicely in practice; he didn’t clock a full time (the hill’s split into three sections for practice), but seemed happy enough with the car. Then, on the day, less than a third of the way up the mountain, smoke filled the cabin.

    When he came off the mountain, he told Top Gear: “I saw smoke so I stopped the car. I had to be safe. We still don’t know what the problem is, but until it happened the car was very, very nice. I’m now going to prepare for next year”

    This left the winner’s spot open for Pikes Peak veteran, Rhys Millen - he drove his Hyundai Genesis Coupe to victory, beating Monster’s previous world record by 6.11 seconds on the faster, all-tarmac route. But the big coup was first-timer, Romain Dumas, who drove his Porsche 911 GT3-R up the hill, missing out on King of the Mountain by 17/1000s of a second. Dumas told us: “We’re very happy with the time. Now we will take the car home, take off the body kit then drive it at a GT race in Macau.” Smooth.

    Then there are the bikers. Now, we usually don’t give too much of a hoot about two-wheelers, but two people managed to make it to the top of the 12.4-mile course in under ten minutes. Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracey got their Ducatis up there in 9:52.819 and 9:58.262 respectively.

    But the transition to an all-tarmac route hasn’t seemed to have worked in other classes. Arizona’s Todd Cook, driving in the Open Wheel division, told us “the road’s got a lot narrower - I was racing here when it was all dirt and it’s got a lot more technical since. The paving’s brought a lot more people here, but it’s also driven some away, and we’re all experimenting with new setups. Cars are lower, and I’ve fitted mine with wider front tyres, but you can’t really turn a dirt car into a pavement car.”

    Which could explain why the red flag made eight appearances during the weekend (though one of those was a drunken woman who had an argument with her husband that got out of hand - gotta love American motorsport). The most punishing of which was car 98 driven by local boy Paul Dallenbach. Last year, he made it three feet off the start line when his axle snapped. This year he made it a half a mile up the mountain before falling off the circuit into the tree line, ending his time on the hill.

    In the EV class, though, the surface change seems to have done the trick. Five of the top finishers beat the previous record, which is at least a two-minute reduction - the class winner, Fumio Nutahara, driving a Toyota Motorsport TMG EVP002 was only 15 seconds from the ten-minute mark.

    So, paradigm shifts left, right and centre. How this leaves things for next year’s race remains to be seen, but we reckon we’ll see a Monster coming over the hill… in less than ten minutes.

  2. Bikers adopt three types of cornering at Pikes Peak: 1. Knee down 2. Dangling your foot out 3. Falling off

  3. Quads quickly turn into trikes (sometimes bikes) when cornering.

  4. Is this what Snoop references in his nineties hip hop classic ‘Undercover Cop’?

  5. The Lexus IS F CCS-R makes its way up to the 16 mile marker of the ‘middle section’ of the mountain. Pretty, isn’t it?

  6. The Scion Racing Sparco Rally xD, runner up of ‘Most Unlikely Car to be Rallied 2011’ (it was beaten by a Daihatsu Cuore, race fans) navigates one of the many switchbacks.

  7. According to Top Gear logic: the bigger wing, the better the car. Which must mean Christopher Lennon’s (no relation to John) Porsche 912 is a GOOD car.

  8. Proof that American cars can navigate corners… sometimes.

  9. Rumour has it that the designer of Pikes Peak (God?) based his design on a strand of cooked spaghetti that he accidently dropped on the floor.

  10. This is the 700hp 1995 EV M3 racer that we showed you a couple of weeks ago. It was silently lairy and finished 54th overall with a time of 11:58.

  11. All the good environmental work by the EV class is undone in one corner by Mike Ryan’s semi-truck.

  12. This is a Time Attack Evo, just like Jeremy Foley’s one that fell off the mountain.

  13. DefSemiHidden=”true” DefQFormat=”false” DefPriority=”99”
    LatentStyleCount=”276”> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Normal” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”heading 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Title” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Subtitle” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Strong” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Emphasis” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Table Grid” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”No Spacing” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”List Paragraph” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Quote” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Intense Quote” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 1” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 2” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 3” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 4” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 5” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Shading Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light List Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Light Grid Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 1 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Shading 2 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 1 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium List 2 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 1 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 2 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Medium Grid 3 Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Dark List Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Shading Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful List Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” Name=”Colorful Grid Accent 6” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Subtle Emphasis” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Intense Emphasis” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Subtle Reference” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Intense Reference” /> UnhideWhenUsed=”false” QFormat=”true” Name=”Book Title” />

    /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:”“; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}

    This was the scene straight after the crash. Emergency services were there straight away, which was remarkably
    impressive considering the terrain. As you can see, the car travelled went
    quite a distance but thankfully the driver and passenger are both OK and escaped with only minor injuries. We wish
    them a quick recovery.

  14. Just like the Nurburgring, Pikes Peak has its own microclimate. Most afternoons there’s a heavy thunderstorm at the top of mountain. At around 4pm we witnessed this with an added bit of sleet and hail mixed into the atmospheric cocktail…

  15. Which meant powerful rear-wheel-drive cars, like this Camaro, had quite an interesting run up the hill.

  16. Because of the changing conditions on different parts of the track, tyre choice can be a little tricky. A lot of teams decided to stick with slicks and pray for the best.

  17. But not everyone had luck on their side. Over the course of the day there was a total of eight red flags and the Flight For Life helicopter had to be used four times.

  18. At the end of the day it’s traditional for the drivers to return to the bottom of the mountain via several thousand high-fives with fans.

  19. After missing out on being hailed King of the Hill by 17/1000s of a second and stuck at the top of the mountain for several hours, Roman Dumas decided to make a swift exit. He does have to get the car to Macau, mind.

  20. So, that rounds up our Pikes Peak coverage. We’re now off to soothe our sunburn and try and get a bit more oxygen in our body. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content