The 91st annual "Race to the Clouds" at Pikes Peak turned into a complete rout, as 9-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb completed the 12.4-mile run behind the wheel of his 875-horsepower, all-wheel-drive Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak special in 8 minutes 13.878 seconds. That blistering pace set both a new Unlimited class record and an absolute race mark that some are speculating may never be eclipsed. Times have been getting quicker across all categories of competition since the last segments of the 156-turn serpentine course that wends it way up the side of the legendary mountain outside Colorado Springs were finally paved two years ago. However, Loeb's brilliant effort trimmed an incredible 92.286 seconds off the existing benchmark, set in 2012 by another Pikes Peak/rally master, Rhys Millen, driving a Hyundai-powered Unlimited machine.
This year, Millen crossed the finish line at the mountain's 14,110-foot summit in second place overall in an all-new Hyundai RMR PM580-T Unlimited entry. But despite bettering his 2012 time by 44 seconds, he still trailed Loeb by some 49 ticks. The French ace's 87.471-mph pace also established a new absolute Pikes Peak speed record. While Peugeot was always confident about the capabilities of its purpose-built 208 T16, even its own computer simulations hadn't anticipated the possibility of the car possessing this level of performance.
"I'm really happy as that was a very good run in the end," said Loeb. "I really didn't expect anything better than 8m15s, so to do 8m13s was fantastic. 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."
While changing weather conditions near the summit did negatively impact runs of some competitors, at least two other notable class records also were set at the 2013 Pikes Peak event. Multi-class and overall Pikes Peak titlist Paul Dallenbach drove a revamped version of the record-holding rear-drive RMR Hyundai Genesis Coupe to a new mark of 9:46.001 in the production-based Time Attack category. Another legend, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, piloted his own Tajima Motors E-runner to a 9:46.530 mark in the EV class. In addition to being the first and only pure-electric entry to ever break the 10 minute mark, Tajima also was the fifth fastest competitor overall.
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