Rhys Millen claimed yet another world record and overall victory at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Sunday's rescheduled event, which was postponed from July by wildfires.
Millen set a blazing pace to the summit in his hillclimb-prepared Hyundai Genesis Coupe racecar, needing only 9m46.164s to make international motorsports' most challenging ascent to the 14,000ft summit. For 2012, Millen's own race team, Rhys Millen Racing, made additional performance enhancements to the current world-record-setting Genesis Coupe, the very same car that set the Time Attack 2WD record last year with Rhys' father, Rod Millen, at the wheel.
"This year, it really came together for the RMR team at Pikes," said Millen. "With the insights gained from the last few years in our Genesis Coupe, the team was able to make some high-impact improvements, leveraging additional downforce and traction opportunities provided by the new all-tarmac surface. And behind the wheel, my experience at Pikes Peak over the years allowed me to shave a few tenths from virtually every corner. Breaking the 10-minute barrier is something I've always wanted to do, and it feels great to accomplish this goal in 2012."
Millen's overall victory was assured when an electrical fire knocked out six-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion Monster Tajima and his new electric vehicle on the opening leg, denying him a shot at a seventh-straight overall title, and six-time winner Paul Dallenbach crashed on one of the opening turns of the course.
Frenchman Romain Dumas finished second overall, just a few ticks off Millen's best at 9:46.18. The sports car racer was frustrated by having to run in more rainy conditions than did Millen, since he was running in a different class with his Porsche 997 GT3R. The runs are scheduled by class, rather than by practice speeds.
Pikes Peak veteran David Donner won the Unlimited division, with a 10:04.552 run in his Palatov D4PPS.
Millen's car was revised for this year's race. Special focus was given to maximizing the grip potential of the new all-asphalt course and its considerably higher average speed for this year. A new aero package was fitted, targeting even more downforce to accommodate higher speeds and additional grip requirements of new, ultra-wide, staggered fitment Hankook F200 racing slicks on custom HRE lightweight wheels. The front splitter was redesigned for more strength and the rear wing was redesigned for additional downforce, along with a wider rear body kit for stability.
On the power side, a new Garrett GTX3582 turbocharger was fitted, yielding 700 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque from the Hyundai V6 powerplant. To handle this extra power, the brake calipers were upgraded for extra thermal capacity, and additional cooling ductwork was installed to ensure optimal brake performance at the summit's extreme altitudes. The entire car was scrutinized for weight reduction potential and suspension settings were further optimized for Millen's unique rally/drift driving techniques.