A record-setting effort from Honda’s North American R&D and motorsport companies – Honda R&D Americas and Honda Performance Development – resulted in one class victory and eight more top-five results Sunday in the 91st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
A total of 11 Honda-entered drivers and riders in nine classes took part in the 2013 edition of the “Race to the Clouds”, including Honda-powered Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Indy car driver Simon Pagenaud, driving a unique, competition-modified Honda “Pikes Peak Odyssey” minivan.
With the exception of Pagenaud, all drivers and riders competing at Pikes Peak on Honda equipment were Honda associates. Honda also served as partnering sponsor of the Hill Climb, the first time the company has participated as a corporate sponsor of the legendary event.
In addition, Honda Power Equipment provided race operation support, including generators which supplied electricity and lights to the pit and staging areas.
Driving a highly-modified Honda Odyssey, Pagenaud was a crowd favorite in his Pikes Peak debut, powering up the 12.42-mile course to a second-place finish in the Exhibition Class. Modifications to Pagenaud’s minivan included a 500+ horsepower, turbocharged and intercooled Honda V6 engine –similar to the engine used in LMP2 competition in the American Le Mans Series – competition suspension and brakes, high-performance tires and a full competition roll cage.
Posting a new record time of 10 minutes, 32.964 seconds, Honda R&D’s Jeff Tigert won the Pikes Peak 450 category, the largest motorcycle class in this year’s race, featuring 17 entrants. A Honda associate making his Pikes Peak debut, Erik Dunshee placed third in the Superbike 750 class, riding a Honda CRB600RR. An otherwise exciting day for Honda was marred by a crash involving Honda R&D’s Alex Moreno, who went off course in his Exhibition Powersport class Honda CBR1000R in the second segment of his hill climb. Moreno
Making his second appearance at the Hill Climb in his modified 1991 Acura NSX, James Robinson braved deteriorating weather conditions – including rain and heavy fog – to finish fourth in the Pikes Peak Open category. Robinson’s NSX is also highly modified from its original form, including a twin-turbo LMP2-derived V6 engine, Le Mans-style wide-body kit, competition suspension and roll cage.
Jeff Tigert(Honda CRF450F) finished 1st in Pikes Peak 450 motorcycles, with a new class record of 10:32.964, a full 34 seconds under the previous mark: “Oh man, I can’t believe it! I hope all the folks at home and everyone at Honda is proud, this was a total team effort. The bike worked perfectly. Looking at the tires, we might have been able to go even a little bit quicker. It’s pretty unbelievable what Honda can do when they put their minds to it. We also had a teammate [Erik Dunshee] finish third in his class [Pikes Peak Superbike 750] in his first run up the mountain, so I’m really happy for him, as well.”
Simon Pagenaud (Honda “Pikes Peak Odyssey”) finished 2nd in the Exhibition Class with a time of 12:54.325: “It was a win for all the ‘soccer moms’. For me, it was amazing. Pikes Peak was always a dream for me, ever since I was a kid in France. There is a lot of interest in this event in Europe, and I think that’s why you saw so many French drivers this year.For me, it was a great opportunity to learn. Honda prepared a great car. Really ‘unique’, I have to say. I have to thank my [Indy car] team and everyone at Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports for allowing me to do this, and thank Honda for the huge effort they made for this year’s event. With more than 500 horsepower, the conditions [rain, cold and fog] were tricky and kept me busy … very busy! But I’m actually pretty happy. I feel very blessed and very proud.I’d like to come back again next year, with something even more crazy!”
Erik Berkman(President, Honda R&D Americas) on Honda’s 11-vehicle, 9-class effort in the 91strunning of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with our injured associate, Alex Moreno, his family and friends. As racers, we all understand and accept the risks involved in our sport, but that doesn’t lessen the dismay we feel when one of our own is hurt.I’d like to thank everyone at Honda R&D Americas – in both in Ohio and California – Honda Performance Development and American Honda who participated in this massive effort, including more than two dozen associates on the ground here in Colorado and many, many more back in Ohio and California. Congratulations to Jeff Tigert on his winning run and new lap record in the Pikes Peak 450 motorcycle category, and to our special guest driver Simon Pagenaud, who gave a great demonstration of the performance capabilities of a Honda Odyssey with more than 500 horsepower!”