If a hill climb has entered the legend of motorsport, it is that of Pikes Peak. As its 99th edition takes place at the end of June, L’argus returns in photos and videos to the monsters that have marked the history of the event: Peugeot 405 T16, Audi Quattro, Suzuki Escudo…
[Mise à jour le 22/06/2023] If it were necessary to establish a classification of the most mythical automotive videos of all time, Climb Dance would appear in a good position. Directed by Jean-Louis Mourey, this 5-minute short film has greatly contributed to the popularity of the Pikes Peak hill climb in our regions.
>> Find the slideshow of the most striking cars <<
A test more than a century old
The images of Ari Vatanen launched an assault on this Colorado mountain in his overpowering
405 T16, not hesitating to use his hand as a sun visor, are remembered. But the history of the event is much older than that. It begins in fact in 1916 and this Sunday, June 25, 2023, it is already the
101e edition of the “race to the clouds” which will take place. With, in particular, the presence of an Alpine A110 GT4 Evo which marks the first commitment of the manufacturer from Dieppe in this hill climb.
A very well named Unlimited category
Despite its more than 500 hp and its impressive aerodynamic panoply, the small French coupé is not aiming for absolute victory. He does not box in the Unlimited advanced category. A category that bears its name very well because it is content with extremely free rules, leaving the door open to all engineering delusions. It was the one that welcomed the 405 T16 and its colossal spoiler, but also other equally spectacular monsters such as the Audi Quattro S1, the Toyota Tacoma pick-up, an unrecognizable Dacia Duster, a Golf with two turbo engines from 652 hp or the famous Suzuki Escudo Pikes Peak. A funny 4×4 Vitara of nearly 1,000 hp, which millions of virtual pilots have tried to tame in the video game Gran Turismo 2 on PlayStation.
Peugeot returns with Loeb in 2013
More recently, it is also within this same framework that Peugeot made its official return in 2013 thanks to the 208 T16, entrusted to the expert hands of nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb. With its 875 hp for 875 kg, the French “city car” had climbed the 156 bends and 12.42 miles (about 20 km) in just 8’13”878. Helped, it is true, by the full tarmac of the track, which made the event lose some of its charm: no more clouds of dust and the captivating, skidding ballet of the 405 T16 Climb Dance. Far from the 10’47”220 of Ari Vatanen, or even the 9’46”164 signed by Rhys Millen a year earlier on a Hyundai Genesis, this record may have seemed an unbeatable time. But it will finally be beaten in 2018 by Romain Dumas and Volkswagen, thanks to the ID.R.
A record held by an electric car
On paper, this 100% electric prototype is however not up to its predecessors. Its heavy batteries make it well over the bar of a ton, and its power is “limited” to 680 hp. But in addition to very advanced aerodynamics, it has largely compensated for this handicap with a size advantage over its thermal competitors. As the arrival of Pikes Peak is perched at 4,302 m altitude, the gasoline engines must indeed deal with air with rarefied oxygen, which can make them lose a lot of power during the ascent. Not so for the ID.R, which managed to finish the race in 7’57”148. Will this time be beaten in 2023? Nothing is certain, but the presence of an astonishing 1,400 hp Ford Supervan driven by record holder Romain Dumas will in any case be enough to arouse curiosity.
TO READ. Ford Supervan test drive: the energy changes, the fun is still there
The best videos of Pikes Peak
Even if none has left its mark as much as Climb Dance, there are other videos that allow you to realize the challenge of Pikes Peak. The argus offers you a small anthology. With, as a bonus, the Climbkhana of the late Ken Block performed in 2017 on the course of the race.