He came, he drove, he conquered.
Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb of France set the racing world ablaze Sunday when he obliterated the overall race record in the 91st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In his first appearance in the "Race to the Clouds," Loeb maneuvered through the 12.42-mile course in 8:13.878, more than a minute-and-a-half faster than the previous race record of 9:46.181 set by Rhys Millen last year.
"I felt really good in the car, and I pushed it hard from the start to the finish," Loeb said. "I made no mistakes, and I felt the race was really good. To drive a car like this and race up here (to the top) is what makes this special. It's amazing."
Driving a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak in the Unlimited class, Loeb averaged 87 miles per hour while setting the record. Millen was a distant second with a time of 9:02.192 in his 2013 Hyundai PM580T, and Jean-Philippe Dayraut of France also topped the previous record with a time of 9:42.740 while driving a 2011 Mini Countryman.
Paul Dallenbach finished in 9:46.001 in his 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe to also eclipse last year's record and win the Time Attack class.
As expected, with the entire course now being a paved track, numerous records fell at the historic race.
Carlin Dunne of Santa Barbara, Calif. - who owns the race's overall record for the motorcycles at 9:52.819 - again was the fastest motorcycle, clocking a time of 10:00.694 on his 2013 Lightning Electric SuperBike in the Exhibition Powersports class. France's Bruno Langlois set a record on his 2013 Ducati Multistrada in winning the Pikes Peak 1205 class with time of 10:21.323, while Jeffrey Tigert's 10:32.964 mark on his 2013 Honda CRF450 established a new Pikes Peak 450 class record.
Michael Coburn's 11:05.874 time on his 2013 Walsh 450R was a Quad Modified class record, and Codie Vasholtz set a Pikes Peak 250 record with a time of 11:24.792 on his 1996 Kawasaki KX 250.
The race was delayed twice in the morning wave after a pair of motorcycle riders were injured after crashing off the course. Michael Applehns of Denver, racing in the Pikes Peak Superbike 750 class, went off the course in his 2006 Suzuki GSXR, and Alex Moreno of Dublin, Ohio, also crashed his 2008 Honda CBR1000RR off the course.
Both riders were airlifted to Colorado Springs-area hospitals, and their statuses were unknown.