Pikes Peak drivers aim to break 10-second barrier | VailDaily.com

Pikes Peak drivers aim to break 10-second barrier

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Three-time champion Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima has been chasing the 10-minute barrier in the Pikes Peak Interntaional Hill Climb for years.

He’ll have plenty of company for his assault on the record this year.

Four-time Swedish rally champion Andreas Eriksson and two-time world rally champion Marcus Gronholm will drive a pair of supercharged Ford Rallycross Fiestas in the Unlimited class along with Tajima, who set the race record of 10:01.408 two years ago.

They will be joined by British rallycross champion Mark Rennison, who will drive a 1999 Ford RS200 in an attempt to break the elusive time barrier in the Race to the Clouds.

“The mountain is not a place for the feint-hearted,” the 59-year-old Tajima said. “It’s a very specialized course, long and very challenging with its own unique characteristics that take years to come to terms with.

“Car setup is also something that is unique to this event, and without previous experience on the mountain, I am sure the newcomers will find this event a huge challenge.”

Twelve defending champions return this year, including Time Attack 2-wheel drive division champion Rhys Millen, who set a record of 12:31.06 last year. Super Stock Car class winner Clint Vasholtz, who has won 15 of the 17 Hill Climbs he has entered, is back to chase the career victory record of 18 held by his father, Leonard.

Paul Dallenbach, a three-time overall race champion who’s won the Open Wheel division five times, will also challenge the 10-minute barrier. He’s driving an 850-horsepower Chevrolet owned by Leonard Arnold of Lyons, Colo.

“We are going for the big win,” said Dallenbach, the younger brother of former NASCAR driver Wally Dallenbach. “We went with Kuhmo Tires this year because they are lighter and are a better pattern for the pavement part of the road, and they should give us the speed we need to get up the hill in under ten.”

A total of 163 drivers in 17 classes will race the 12.42-mile course from mile marker seven on Pikes Peak Highway to the top of the 14,110-foot mountain. Drivers will maneuver their way through 156 turns on paved and gravel roads and climb 4,721 feet during the race.

Weather conditions on the mountain will also play a role in the outcome.

Drivers will compete in the following classes: Unlimited; Open Wheel; Super Stock Car; Pro Trucks; Pikes Peak Open; Time Attack 2-Wheel Drive; Exhibition Car/Truck; Vintage; Motorcycle 1200 cc; Motorcycle 750 cc; Motorcycle Supermoto 450; Motorcycle Quad 500; Motorcycle 450 cc; Motorcycle 250 cc; Motorcycle Quad 450; Motorcycle Vintage; and Motorcycle Sidecar.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the nation’s second-oldest race, behind the Indianapolis 500. It began in 1916 as a promotion by regional icon Spencer Penrose and featuring Barney Oldfield and Eddie Rickenbacker to help promote the new highway to the top of the mountain.

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