HPD Blog

Thursday, July 14, 2011

THR and HPD tackle the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb!


The Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (PPIHC), also known as ”The Race to the Clouds,” is an annual automobile and motorcycle ascent of Pikes Peak in Colorado. This historic race is run on a 12.42-mile course containing 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110-foot summit of America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak! As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. The air also robs engines of 30 percent of their power at the summit. Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape to simply finish...let alone win!

Team Honda Research (THR) partnered with Honda Performance Development (HPD) to showcase a new B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally/Rally-X at the famous Hillclimb. "With the level of interest for Rally-X and with low-cost racing on the rise, we felt this event would be a fantastic way to launch the Rally B-Spec Fit with the public," stated James Robinson, driver of the Rally B-Spec Fit. "Given the unique and varying surfaces of the PPIHC event, we were able to show the stability and reliability of the B-Spec platform." After three days of practice and qualifying, the only service required on the newly built HPD Fit was the addition of four gallons of gas and a tire rotation.

"We were very excited to get the opportunity to be a competitor at the 89th running of the race, not only due to the fact that we would be able to show the new Rally B-Spec Fit, but also because this was the last running of PPIHC before the entire course would be paved," James said. After the practice sessions, the THR/HPD team felt ready to test the HPD Fit against the mountain. Due to the class in which the HPD Fit competed, the rookie team was given the honor to be the first competitors up the mountain. "This gave us a clear track on the way up, as well as a fantastic opportunity to watch the unique drama unfold at the summit, as the Unlimited Class fought to break the world-record time up the mountain set by Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima in 2007." James continued, "Watching Tajima-san make history from the summit was amazing, and we were thankful that the HPD Fit got us to the top so that we could watch it!"

Considering the B-Spec’s focus on low-cost race preparation, the HPD Fit was able to set a commendable time of 15 minutes, 46.609 seconds; only seconds slower than cars with significantly more power. "I think that there is a very good opportunity here to expand PPIHC’s current class list to include a B-Spec category, which would allow more competitors to experience the thrill of racing up this historic mountain," James said. "We received fantastic crowd support for the car, and had a wonderful time driving the Fit to the top. We look forward to another chance next year, and hope we can pull more B-Spec cars to race with us in 2012!"

The THR team would like to thank HPD for its excellent support during this event, along with BFGoodrich, John Holt Racecars, Honda R&D Fabrication department, Jared Vanderhoof, Kentaro Akao, and Shana Robinson.

Look for the Rally B-Spec Fit at the upcoming Rally-X events at Bark River, MI (August 13-14) and Chicagoland Speedway, IL (September 15).

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