Sébastien Loeb, driving a highly-modified Peugeot 208 rally car in yesterday’s 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, completely obliterated the standing record, set last year by Rhys Millen. This was only the Frenchman’s first time at Pikes Peak but with the entire course now being a paved track, numerous records were expected to fall.
It was also Peugeot’s first time on Pikes Peak since the automaker’s back-to-back titles in 1988 and 1989, achieved by Ari Vatanen and Robby Unser, respectively.
Loeb took his 875-horsepower Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak through the 156 turns of the 12.42-mile ‘Race to the Clouds’ in a time of just 8:13.878, more than a minute-and-a-half faster than Millen’s previous race record of 9:46.181 and averaging approximately 87.471 mph over the course.
Millen was back this year, driving a highly-modified Hyundai PM580T, but couldn’t keep up with Loeb’s Peugeot. Millen’s final time came in at 9:02.192.
Third fastest on the day was another Frenchman, Jean-Philippe Dayraut, who drove a custom MINI Countryman. His time was 9:42.740.
All three were driving in the event’s Unlimited Class.
Pikes Peak legend Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima was also competing this year, racing his E-Runner Pikes Peak Special in the event’s Electric Car class. Tajima not only won in his class but set a new record of 9:46.530, nearly 30 seconds quicker than the electric record of 10:15.380 set by Fumio Nutahara last year in a Toyota TMG EV P002.
Loeb, a winner of nine World Rally Championship titles, said at the conclusion of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb that he hasn’t decided if he will return in 2014. He also said breaking the 8-minute mark wasn’t at the top of his priorities’ list. He no doubt will need to concentrate on his entry into the World Touring Car Championship next year with Peugeot sister brand Citroën.
“I felt really good in the car, and I pushed it hard from the start to the finish,” Loeb said. “I made no mistakes, and I felt the race was really good.”