The Pikes Peak International Hill climb needs no introduction, the most famous Hill climb in the world situated in Colorado, U.S that attracts International competitors and over 30,000 spectators to challenge the 14,110ft Mountain.
This year's challenge was originally set for Monster Energy Athlete and XGAMES Gold medalist Liam Doran in his dad's 900bhp Ford RS200. But as wildfire swept through Colorado in July this year the event was postponed and was then set to clash with Doran Jnr's European Rallycross campaign.
With plans already well underway and the car nearing completion quitting the event was not an option and father Pat Doran was called upon to take up the challenge.
‘The Race to the Clouds’, a dream which has been in far reach since the former rally driver recessed the mountain 15 yrs ago, was now within his grasp and was more than willing to step up to the challenge.
“I recessed Pikes Peak 15 yrs ago on a family holiday and every year I made it my mission to eventually build a car which was up to the enormous task. Being a former Rally driver and a current Rally crosser I knew I had the balls to do it but did I have the knowledge to make it safely up to the top in a fast enough time?
No Co-driver, 12miles of tarmac road and 156 corners to memorize in just 9 practice runs in the days running up to the event, this was the biggest and most intimidating mission of my life” said an enthusiastic Pat. “One of my biggest worries was the altitude, with a vertical height of 2.6 miles the air gets very thin and your body needs to adjust to the oxygen levels, even the car suffers, at the bottom I will l start with 900bhp but that will reduce to an eventual 550bhp at the summit, a significant car performance decrease”
A lack of testing back in the UK meant that the Monster Energy RS200 underwent various mechanical issues which prevented Pat and his team from completing all 9 practice sessions with the car. “I actually only completed 1 of the 9 practice sessions at full race speed, Each time there was an issue. In all we had to tackle a misfire, a broken transfer box and 2 shattered gearboxes. We definitely need to look at new transmission for the future” said Pat.
As the sun rose over Colorado Springs the race day was nearly upon the team and all testing, traveling and hard work came down to this moment, a car which was capable of making its way up to the summit in sub 10 minutes, a time which was only broken last year at the event.
In 90 degree heat Pat was aiming for a top 3 time, this was no longer child's play and as the car set off the line using its full 750lbs of torque the whole valley trembled with the pure power and noise of the RS200. As the car held the road the bottom section of the course saw Pat make a few mistakes but still in touch with the race pace.
Glenn Cove, the half way mark, was swiftly approaching at which point Pat has improved his pace was on track to complete a Top 3 time overall on his first attempt. But that was not to be, just before Glenn Cove the fragile gearbox of the Monster RS200 shattered leaving the Pat and his car to limp to the nearest checkpoint.
“The car was going great”, said a frustrated Pat, “I would have broken the 10 minute barrier. My goal when I started this quest was to just get to the summit but it turned into more than that, I knew that we were capable of being competitive for the top spot. I feel I have let everyone down as I had so many people that were a part of our journey to get here that put in blood, sweat and tears to help me achieve this dream. In the 7hrs it took me to be retrieved from the mountain me and the car had some words!”
The team will now go away until next year and test at various Hill Climbs with Pikes Peak being the highlight of Pat's year in 2013.
“Unfortunately for Liam he will not be getting the drive in the RS200 next year” joked Doran snr. “This mountain is so addictive. If I didn't return I would be the first driver in history to not do so. I am looking forward to picking up where I left off”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank just SOME of the people that helped me get here..... Adam & Ash at Revolution who helped with setting the car up on their Rolling Road and Dyno, Alan from Mark Rennisons Team for lending us a transfer box, Bob and his family at Colorado Springs Raceway who let us test the car numerous times and were so welcoming, to Julian Godfrey for staying up all night whilst away racing in Belgium for setting up the car remotely, Pete and the rest of the team at Forge Motorsport who put in hard graft and dedication to get the car here.
A massive thanks to my mechanics; Ray, Scott, Alan,Gee and Tom who all worked extremely hard and only had a total of 8 hrs sleep through the whole week! Of Course, Congratulations to Rhys Millen on the new record. Finally I would like to thank all of the officials, spectators and competitors at Pikes Peak for being so welcoming and helpful and all of my sponsors that helped me get here, Bring on Next year!!!!"
Source: Doran Motosport