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Nine-minute barrier remains big stumbling block at Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

June 29, 2014 Updated: June 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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Guy Martin speeds toward the finish line on the way to win the Pikes Peak Challenge - UTV/Exhibition class at the 92nd running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Sunday, June 29, 2014 with a time of 11:32.558. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Swiss driver Romain Dumas hoped to be crowned King of the Mountain on Sunday by setting a new overall record.

Instead, Pikes Peak reigned supreme, as usual.

The elusive nine-minute barrier proved too difficult to overcome at the 92nd running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Dumas, a former 24 Hours of Le Mans champion, finishing the 12.42-mile course in 9:05.81.

It was below the standard set by French record holder Sebastien Loeb last year (8:13.878).

"The road was a little slippery so I took no chances because winning was the first goal," said Dumas, who raced in the unlimited class. "We made some mistakes, especially in the tires."

While America's Mountain proved a difficult challenge, there were 10 new entries into the event's record book.

The electric car manufacturers served notice that they may reign some day with Greg Tracy just behind Dumas at 9:08.188 to win the new electric modifieds class and place second overall, just ahead of Mitsubishi teammate Hiroshi Masuoka (9:12.241).

Tracy's time set an electric modified class record, snapping the mark set last year by Nobihuro "Monster" Tajima (9:46.530).

"I expect an electric to break the (all-classes) record in three or four years," Tracy said. "I went 110 percent but I really wanted to get into the 8s. Sometimes the mountain won't let you."

Woodland Park driver Clint Vahsholtz set a record in the open wheel class and surpassed a famous name from the Hill Climb's first family, the Unsers. He won the division in 9:54.700, surpassing Robby Unser's 1994 record (10:05.850). It was the oldest remaining record among current car classes.

"It's not apples to apples because he raced on dirt and this was on pavement," Vahsholtz said. "I was really hoping to be another 10 seconds faster but the mountain had other ideas."

He and other racers said road conditions were slippery while a stiff wind and bumpy road made the upper third more difficult.

In all, six racers broke the 10-minute barrier including Pikes Peak open car winner Michael Skeen (9:55.471) and top motorcycle rider Jeremy Toye (9:58.687, Pikes Peak open).

Electric production motorcycle racer Jeff Clark broke his own record by reaching the 14,115-foot summit in 11:59.814. Theo Bernhard broke a year-old quads record in 11:20.020. Three other motorcycle class records were set in their debut.

"I am happy with the race and happy with how the day turned out," Clark said.

He wasn't the only one. Tajima likes the possibilities of electric cars and appreciates that spectators are limited to fan viewing areas instead of lining the road.

"I am very happy about that," he said. "I will be back with a new car next year and I will break the nine minutes."

It remains to be seen if the mountain's challenges allow him in 2015.

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