WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PPIHC, ALPINE, RADFORD, PORSCHE, FORD
Anticipation is building for the 101st edition of the legendary Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, which returns to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, US, on June 25, 2023.
In the event known colloquially as The Race to the Clouds, everything from a bespoke Porsche 935/19 ‘Moby Dick’ to tuned street cars, pick-ups and home-builds will attack the 156 corners of the 12.42-mile ascent to the misty summit of Pikes Peak, which sits at 14,115 feet above sea level.
Since there is only half as much oxygen at the Pikes Peak summit as at sea level, it’s no surprise that the current record is held by the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R. In 2018, three-time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas daringly drove it to a blistering time of 7:57.148 minutes.
Dumas returns this year in another EV, which also happens to be one of the most unusual machines on the entry list: the 2023 Ford Performance SuperVan 4. With a staggering 2000bhp and 1328 lb ft on tap, the SuperVan is 21 times more powerful than a standard EV Transit and more than twice as powerful than the ID.R, yet it’s unlikely to topple the German car as the course record holder.
Tanner Foust is another Pikes Peak veteran who returns to the mountain in 2023, this time behind the wheel of a purpose-built Radford 62-2. Effectively a one-off prototype, the featherlight 62-2 weighs just 861kg thanks to its bespoke carbon tub and bodywork.
The 62-2 is also 230mm wider than the Type 62 road car, and features new suspension and subframes as well as an aggressive aerodynamic package specifically sculpted for the thin mountain air. Power is still provided by a Toyota-based V6, but it has been overhauled to develop a mighty 690bhp. Foust looks a safe bet to post one of the fastest times in the competition.
Another steroidal version of a lightweight sports car comes in the Gallic form of the Alpine A110 Pikes Peak. Wielding a gigantic splitter and double rear wing, the A110 Pikes Peak is a 950kg, 493bhp one-off, which marks the beginning of the end for A110 road car production. Frenchman Raphaël Astier, who has completed four Pikes Peak runs, is on driving duties.
One of the most emotive moments of the weekend will undoubtedly be the sight of the Hoonipigasus Porsche 911 finally making its ascent up the mountain. The fearsome 1400bhp AWD Porsche 911 was the brainchild of the late Ken Block, who attempted to run the car at last year’s Pikes Peak before plans were scuppered by an engine failure in practice. In a touching remembrance of her late father, Lia, Ken’s 16-year-old daughter, will pilot Hoonpigasus into the clouds this year. Hoonpigasus was one of the favourites to record the fastest overall time prior to Ken’s passing.
Porsche fans will also be treated to the annual one-make Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy class, as well as the returning Porsche 935/19 Moby Dick and GT2RS Clubsport in the Time Attack 1 class. Holding the banner for Stuttgart in the Unlimited class is a 2002 Porsche 911 Twin Turbo, which competes against the likes of a 2018 Volkswagen Polo R WRC rally car, a Wolf TSC-FS open-wheeler and the bonkers Cowper Dax Rush Pikes Peak Special.
Other entries that are sure to pique interest include the oldest vehicle on the entry list, a 1949 Ford F1 pick-up, which goes head-to-head with a cutting-edge Rivian R1T EV pickup. The race card also features a 2016 Ferrari 488 GT3 race car, CG Superlite LMP1 prototype, Ford Shelby Super Snake Sport and homebuilt wonders such as the Apexocet, O’Maley Special Spec VIII and PVA 3.
Although it was first held in 1916, Pikes Peak remains just as dangerous, challenging and intimidating as it has always been.
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