Two hundredths of a second meant the fulfillment of an 18-year record quest for one driver and disgust for another.
Funny that such a tiny margin – essentially the blink of an eye – would decide a Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that dragged into the evening because of crashes and delays so that the final 15 competitors raced a shortened course.
Amid the commotion that included a burned-out engine for defending champion and record-holder Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, emerged one of the race’s best finishes in its 90-year history, the first year that Pikes Peak Highway was fully paved.
Rhys Millen blazed up the mountain in 9 minutes, 46.16 seconds just 10 spots after Frenchmen Romain Dumas set a shortlived record time of 9:46.18.
For Millen, whose father, Rod Millen, held the mountain’s speed record from 1994 through 1997, it was en emotional triumph. For 18 years he had chased that record, at times running $1 million cars that he owned.
The record finally came in a year when his sponsors did not provide a top ride and he instead drove a production car.
“This is just unbelievable,” Millen said. “We just competed against the best in the world and beat them.”
While Millen raised his hands in jubilation when the times were read; Dumas dropped his head in disappointment and anger.
Dumas was livid that the race was organized by class instead of overall time. Because it was set up as it was, he drove in rainier conditions than many drivers – including Millen. He would have preferred the top drivers to go in succession and in similar conditions, particularly earlier in the day before the mountain was covered in rain and ice.
“We spend all this money to come for one weekend and it’s not fair,” said Dumas, a Hill Climb rookie who said he would not return. “I know it’s bad to speak like that of a race since I am a newcomer, but it is not fair.”
Third place overall went to Carlin Dunne, who became the first driver to break the 10-minute barrier on a motorcycle. Dunne clocked a time of 9:52 in the 1205 class and his teammate Greg Tracy followed at 9:56 in the next run – finishing in fourth overall.
Top qualifiers Jean Phillipe Dayraut and Paul Dallenbach were among several drivers who failed to finish, leaving the race marred by red flags.
David Donner Wins Unlimited Division
David Donner (Colorado Springs), whose family spans four generations of racers at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, notched his first win in the Unlimited division, driving his 2012 Palatov D4PPS to victory with a clocking of 10:04.652. Cody Loveland (Buckley, Mich.) was second at 11:39.766 in a division won for the last six years by Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima, who switched to the Electric Auto Division today and was forced out by a fire in his cockpit.
Japanese Rally Star Wins Electric Auto Division
Fumio Nutahara, a famous Japanese Rally car star, won the Electric Division behind the wheel of a Toyota Motorsport Gmbh, taking the demanding 12.42 mike course to the summit of the mountain with a time of 10:15.380. Another famous Japanese rally star, Hiroshi Masuoka, was second in his Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution, with a time of 10:30.850. Defending champion Ikuo Hanawa of Japan finished fifth.
Live timing at www.ppihc.com
Carlin Dunne (Santa Barbara, Calif.) broke the Peak’s 10-minute mark in winning the 1205 cc motorcycle with a clocking of 9:52.819. Runner-up Greg Tracy clocked 9:58.262 to crack the old barrier first. Dunne set the course mark for bikes last year with an 11:11.329.
Marc LaNoue (Houston) won the Vintage Motorcycle Division with a class record of 12:39.782; Jason Archuleta (Colorado Springs), set a class mark in winning the 250 cc division with an 11:41.015 clocking; Travis Newbold (Montrose) won the 450cc division with a class record of 11:06.618, and Gary Trachy (Orange, Calif.) set a new class record in winning the 750 cc division with a blistering 10:40.753 clocking.
John-Thomas Wood (Adelanto, Calif.) and co-driver Chris Rizzo shredded their old mark in repeating as Motorcycle Sidecar Champions. Wood’s time of 11:41.406 buried the old mark they set last year of 13:09.040.
Steve Tutt (Platte City, Mo.) broke the Quad Modified motorcycle mark with his clocking of 11:40.521, eclipsing the old standard of 11:59.021 set last year by Michael Coburn.
Doug Siddens (Cedar Park, Texas) triumphed in the motorcycle Exhibition Powersport Class, racing his 2009 Polaris RZR-X to the win with a clocking of 10:40.669. This division features UTVs, electric motorcycles, and Quads 750cc-and-up.
Jess Neal (Colorado Springs) won the Vintage Auto division in a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda in a time of 12:03.858 as the automobile divisions opened after Noon.
Notes: Greg Tracy and Gary Trachy are actually brothers, but choose to spell their last names differently. The old PPIHC Motorcycle course record was the 11:11.329 set last year by Ducati’s Carlin Dunne in the 1205 cc division.
Worth Noting: The overall course record was the 9:51.278 set last year by Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima in winning the Unlimited Crown. He had an electric car in 2012.