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France's Laure Many not feeling pressure of Pikes Peak Hill Climb

June 20, 2017 Updated: June 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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When Laure Many's teammate, and two-time winner of the Hill Climb, Romain Dumas invited her to join him in Colorado Springs, Many admits thinking, "It's too hard for me." (Via Roman Dumas driving team)

About 5,000 miles from her French home and 13,000 feet above sea level, Laure Many struggled to get her 1978 Porsche going up Pikes Peak.

Both Many and her car are used to Rally Car racing, and they looked out of place against the other specialized vehicles and drivers in Tuesday's practice day for the 95th running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Many realizes it too. When her teammate, and two-time winner of the Hill Climb, Romain Dumas invited her to join him in Colorado Springs, Many admits thinking, "It's too hard for me."

Though Dumas quickly came to Many's defense, saying, "Nothing's too hard for her," perhaps Many is right, as her car was noticeably slower than others Tuesday.

But her inexperience in racing at higher altitudes isn't the only thing that makes Many different from other drivers: She's also the only woman competing.

That, at least, is nothing new for the Frenchwoman. She says she doesn't even think about it anymore.

"I'm used to that, because I'm always the only woman," Many said. "I just do my best, and I do it for fun."

This isn't the first time Dumas has invited a newcomer to tag along to the Hill Climb. He brought first-time racers Vincent Beltoise and Raphael Astier in 2014 and 2016, respectively, who were top 10.

That doesn't mean Dumas is pressuring Many to succeed. As someone who has raced in the Hill Climb before and raced in Many's Porsche before, though he does expect to see Many improve by Sunday, he knows how challenging "the Race to the Clouds" will be for her.

"It will improve, but, you know, (the car) took off in 1977," Dumas said. ". You can not expect to have the car forever. I'd guess, right now, she has about 160 or 170 horsepower, so, you know, it's not a car made for Pikes Peak. It's a car made for (Rally Car) in Europe.

"... But for here, it's very difficult. But at the end of the day, it's more for (Many) to see this crazy race and this crazy field. I think everybody is very impressed each time, and we enjoy it."

As for Many herself, she's already seeing improvement. She thinks her runs up the mountain got better as the morning got older Tuesday.

Still, she's maintaining realistic expectations.

"It's very new and quite hard," Many said. "The goal is to make the last day on to the top."

Seems modest, as you might expect most racers to say they believe they're going to win.

But Many feels no pressure. Even though she's the only woman in the field this year, and she's on the same team as a man who will likely contend for another first-place prize, she knows she's with people who will accept whatever result she earns.

"Laure is always running with us in Rally," Dumas said. "She knows how we work, you know? We're small, but a big family and a big team at the end of the day."

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