Tajima wins 5th straight Pikes Peak Hill Climb; Basalt’s Dallenbach 2nd
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 10-minute barrier at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is safe for another year.
Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima on Sunday topped Unlimited Class challengers Paul Dallenbach and Rhys Millen to win his fifth consecutive Race to the Clouds in 10:11.490.
It was a few seconds faster than his winning time last year but short of the record 10:01.408 he set in 2007.
Tajima felt he had made a good enough run to break the record and was surprised to hear his time at the summit.
“I’m very disappointed,” Tajima said. “I thought I was faster, and it was a very good run. The car and everything worked well.”
Dallenbach, a three-time overall Hill Climb champion, finished second in 10:39.534, despite having to go to a backup engine that had 130 horsepower less than his No. 1 engine.
“It was a fairly clean run overall, and I can’t complain too much,” Dallenbach said. “You always want to win and break records, but the mountain dictates if records are broken. I’m here safe and in one piece, so that’s the important thing. We’ll be back at it next year.”
Millen, whose father Rod held the overall record before Tajima, struggled with mechanical issues and settled for a time of 11:06.208 and finished third in the Unlimited Class.
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong today,” said Millen, who set the 2WD Time Attack Class record a year ago.
“We had a transmission issue right at the start, I overheated my front brakes and got loose in one turn. We’ll be back fighting for that 10-minute barrier next year.” he said.
Savannah Rickli, of Littleton, Colo., the youngest female competitor in race history at age 16, finished her run in her 2003 Mini Cooper in 13:58.232 and was brought to tears after reaching the summit.
“This is such a personal victory,” said Rickli, a junior at Dakota Ridge High School. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since I went to my first Hill Climb 12 years ago. I’m just so happy to be up here.”
It was the 88th running of the hill climb, with 107 drivers competing in 21 classes.
The Hill Climb is the nation’s second-oldest race, behind the Indianapolis 500. It began in 1916 as a promotion by regional icon Spencer Penrose and featuring Barney Oldfield and Eddie Rickenbacker to help promote the then-new highway to the top of the mountain.
The 12.42-mile course ascends 4,721 feet through 146 turns to the 14,110-foot summit on both paved and gravel surfaces.
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