Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Pikes Peak 2012 - The Mountain Awakens

15/6/12, 2:25, 56927 views (when posted)

After being delayed due to most of Colorado being slightly On Fire, the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is finally upon us, which means the big road-laden mountain in Colorado Springs, CO, USA will once again play host to some of the maddest machines known to man, woman and golem. One such example is this, the Banks Power Special made and driven by noted race winner Paul Dallenbach. Improved from last year and running on methanol, power and torque have increased by 93bhp and 95lb/ft respectively over last year's car, giving an overall total of 1400bhp and 1301lb/ft from a Twin-Turbo V8. Yeah, that should be enough.

Mind you, it needs to have a lot if it want to stay quick, as with higher altitude (the race goes from 9390ft to 14,110ft above sea level) comes thinner air, which is bad for engines as they run on an air/fuel mixture. The enormous turbochargers - which compress exhaust air and force it back into the engine, of course - go some way to aiding this, which is why none of Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima's eleven race-winning cars have used big naturally-aspirated engines, but the power figure will drop notably at those altitudes.

Speaking of the Monster, there is of course one solution to the loss of air, which is to use a power source that doesn't need air, like, say, electricity. To that end, the car to your left if the first Monster machine in a long time not to enter in the Unlimited class, instead being designed from the ground up by his own company "Tajima Motor" as a hillclimb car which, he hopes, will set a new record for electric vehicles up the mountain. Well, when you've dominated the "Race to the Clouds" and won the last six races in a row, setting multiple records and being the first to break the 10-minute barrier, you might as well mix things up a bit. Mitsubishi are also trying this with something that appears to have swallowed and compressed an i-MiEV, but the first day of practice today hasn't gone well for them. Nobody seems to know the specs of Tajima-san's new leccy racer, but come on, it's not going to be slow, is it? We'll hopefully find out how not-slow it is over the coming practice days, as they spend each early weekday morning making sure nothing but GoPro cameras will fall off their cars as they race to the Colorado clouds on Sunday. Sadly, I won't have time to cover the race, but if you want to follow it, Speedhunters are promising full coverage, or you can go to the race's official site.

Who will win now that Monster has bowed out of the top class? Odds are it'll be an American driver, given that 5 of the 7 Unlimited entrants are from the US but which one? We'll find out this Sunday!

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