Sebastien Loeb reached new highs at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, shattering the current circuit record by over 90 seconds.
The multiple World Rally Champion completed the 12.42 mile course, comprised of 156 corners, in an astonishing 8:13.878s at an average speed of 87.471mph in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak. The previous best, set by Rhys Millen in 2012, was a 9:46.164s, which was beaten by all of the top three finishers.
“For me, this was the race of the year,” said Loeb. “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 beat his theoretical best time, calculated by his practice times, by two seconds, although the record looked in doubt as the clouds gathered before the Frenchman set up the mountain course.
“When I was on the start line waiting to go, I could actually see the clouds closing in at the top of the mountain,” he continued. “I remember thinking that if we didn’t get going soon, it would be really difficult. 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.”
Elsewhere during the event, Toyota Motorsport GmbH and Rod Millen were denied a chance of beating their own electric record having been caught out by bad weather.
Heavy rain before the electric cars got their run left the track in some very difficult conditions, meaning drivers could not match their practice times in what looked to be a very close fought class.
“There was a chance that if weather had not played a role like it did we would have seen an electric car in the top-three overall results and that would have been really impressive,” said Millen. “We were lined up, or certainly one of the electric cars was lined up, to do that. This technology is moving very quickly and for me to be part of all that was a real thrill. To me it was a group of people that were very passionate and enthusiastic working with this new EV technology and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. This technology is moving very fast and improving very fast and these guys are certainly on the pace.”
The TMG EV P002 ended the race in fourth with a time of 10:24.301s, while Nobuhiro Tajima took the class honours, setting a new record with his time of 9:46.530s. Second to fourth were covered by less than three seconds.