Despite only seven entries in the electric division of the 92nd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition in Colorado Springs, USA, this weekend, there is much excitement expected. Will record holder Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima stand an attack from the Mitsubishi’s, or will an outsider take this year’s crown?
Under drizzling weather conditions, Tajima won the 2013 edition by setting a record time of completing the 12,4 mile course in 9:46.530 minutes. All others attempting to beat that time, but crashes or a tricky road prevented anyone from getting near. The 64-year old race driver from Japan further improved his performance of the Monster Sport E-Runner prototype and as a ten time champion, he will absolutely be favoured for this year’s win. When asked about beating the current gasoline record, he responds: “We are able to do that very soon, it depends on the battery. With a high quality and high density battery, I can beat that record for sure.”
But don’t underestimate the pair of Mitsubishi’s MiEV Evolution III. Driven by 2012 EV runner-up and two-time Dakar Rally champion Hiroshi Masuoka and six-time Pikes Peak motorcycle champion Greg Tracy, the Japanese manufacturer is eager to win. The power increase from the electric motors has grown to 450 kW, weight has been reduced and after wind tunnel studies the car has an optimised bodywork and spoiler. On top of that, the Super All-Wheel Control system has been redesigned for improving handling and traction control performance.
While former EV champion Ikuo Hanawa will race the Summit HER-02 once again, Drive eO changed vehicles for this year’s competition. The prototype has been left in Latvia, while the crew has improved a Tesla Roadster with 360 kW (peak) twin-motor system and a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The team is aiming to validate the new components ahead of scaling them up for successive electric supercar projects which are already on the drawing board. “We are quite thrilled to finally bring this iconic brand to the racetrack”, told race engineer Kristaps Dambis to ElectricAutosport.com earlier.
In the electric production division, Roy Richards and Steve Wickham will race for the honour. Richards takes his Honda Fit-RV uphill, while Wickham tries to beat his rival with a Toyota Rav4 EV. Whickham was last year’s Toyota project manager of the Toyota TMG EV P002 entry at Pikes Peak. The prototypes did not enter the 2014 edition of the competition, but sources indicate that Toyota might come back stronger in the future.
Technical inspections are taking place on Monday, followed by practice sessions and qualifying runs over the next four days. The race will take place on Sunday June 29.