Monday, July 1, 2013


Sébastien   Loeb / Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak @ 2013 PPIHC

After   months   of   anticipation,   Sébastien   Loeb   has   shattered   the   Pikes   Peak International  Hill Climb  record  with a breath-taking  time  of 8m13.878s  in the  208 T16 Pikes Peak. The Frenchman negotiated the 20 kilometres and 156 corners of the mountain at an average speed of 145kph.

Loeb’s time blitzed the previous best of 9m46.164s, set by Rhys Millen  last year, with the top three finishers all  beating  the 2012 record. “For me, this was the race of the year,”  said  Loeb  at  the  finish,  4300  metres  high  in  the  Rocky  Mountains.  “At  the beginning of my run there was a bit of pressure for sure because I knew there was so much  work  and  investment  from  Peugeot  and  all  the  partners.  Now,  after  all  the practice, it was just down to me and I had to perform.”

Loeb started first of the Unlimited  class cars, unleashing his 875-horsepower  car onto the mountain this morning after all the motorcycle competitors had passed through. However there were a number of delays before he started, which meant that the team began to worry  about bad weather: a common feature of Pikes Peak at high altitude. “When I was on the start line waiting to go, I could actually  see the clouds closing in at the top of the mountain,” said Loeb. “I remember thinking  that  if we didn’t  get going soon, it would be really difficult.”

As it was, Loeb blasted his 208 T16 Pikes Peak through  the clouds in a time that  was even quicker than Peugeot Sport’s computer had thought was possible. The ideal theoretical time – calculated using data from Loeb’s practice runs up the Colorado mountain  – was 8m15s. The nine-time  world  rally  champion  somehow  managed  to shave two seconds off that.

“I’m really  happy as that  was a very good run in the end,” said Loeb. “I really  didn’t expect anything  better  than  8m15s, so to  do 8m13s was fantastic.  Before the start  I didn’t really know if I should push absolutely  to the maximum or if I should just push to a comfortable pace, in order to make sure of the victory. In the end, I decided to push to the limit.”

The result was spectacular, with Loeb now joining the pantheon of Pikes Peak winners; nearly one year to the day after he first conquered America by winning the rally  cross finale of the X-Games on July 1, 2012. Despite his flat-out approach, the multiple champion   didn’t   even  report   any   major   moments,   while   his  Peugeot  has  been completely  reliable throughout  the entire month it has been in America.

“It was good,  all  under control  from  start  to  finish,” he concluded. “Apart from  the potential   of  the  weather  turning  bad, we  didn’t  have any  worrying  moments.”  The scenes of success at Peugeot were reminiscent of 1988, when former world rally champion Ari Vatanen broke the Pikes Peak record for the French manufacturer exactly
25 years ago, with the 405 T16 Pikes Peak. Back then the benchmark was 10m47.220s on gravel roads – a sign of just how rapidly technology has evolved.

In second place on the 91st  ‘Race to the Sky’ this year was former record-holder  Rhys
Millen  in his all-new  Hyundai  RMR PM580-T, 49 seconds behind Loeb with  a time of
9m02.192s. Nonetheless, the New Zealander beat his own record – and he says that he’s determined to break the nine-minute barrier next year.

“I think it’s fair to say that we were racing for second place today,” said Millen. “Myself and Romain Dumas had been really close throughout practice, but then I heard that his engine had unfortunately broken at the start. I knew I wasn’t going to beat Sebastien’s time, so I just decided to take no risks. You have to hand it to Loeb and Peugeot Sport: they were unbeatable. That time they set was simply incredible. When will it be beaten? It might never be…”

For Loeb & Peugeot Sport, it was the end to a remarkable one-shot adventure that had taken them from early tests of the 208 T16 Pikes Peak at Mont Ventoux in France to the untrammelled mountains of Colorado: officially America’s highest state. Pikes Peak is a legend: the second-oldest car race in America after the Indy 500. And now Loeb – the new King of the Peak – and the Peugeot car are part of American history.

[Source : PEUGEOT]



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