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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Japanese driver wins 4th straight Pikes Peak climb

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Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima won his fourth consecutive Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday, but a loose track kept him from achieving his goal of breaking the 10-minute mark.

Tajima finished with a time of 10:15.368 — a few seconds faster than his winning time from a year ago. But it was well short of the record of 10:01.408 he set in 2007.

A trio of European rally car champions were expected to challenge Tajima and the elusive 10-minute barrier at this years 87th running of the “Race to the Clouds,” the nation’s second-oldest race behind the Indianapolis 500.

Two-time world rally champion Marcus Gronholm had engine trouble and finished second at 11:28.963. He finished the race with the right rear tire of his Ford Rallycross Fiesta in flames.

British rallycross champion Mark Rennison — who couldn’t make a full practice run last week after his 1999 Ford RS200 blew — finished with a time of 12:11.56. Four-time Swedish rally champion Andreas Eriksson ran off the track and was unable to finish the race.

A total of 163 drivers in 17 classes raced the 12.42-mile course from mile marker seven on Pikes Peak Highway to the top of the 14,110-foot mountain. Drivers navigated their way through 156 turns on paved and gravel roads and climbed 4,721 feet during the race.

Rain and lightning caused a 20-minute delay, and gusty winds and slippery gravel on the 12.42-mile course’s unpaved portions forced drivers to drive more carefully, resulting in slower times for the second consecutive year.

Paul Dallenbach, a three-time overall champion at the climb, was another threat to the 10-minute mark, but a slick lower portion of the course kept him from challenging the mark. Dallenbach won the open-wheel class for the sixth time in his career, finishing with a time of 10:52.097.

Despite the challenging weather and course conditions, racers set a trio of class time records this year.

Rhys Millen, the 2007 attack class champion, won the class again this year with a record 12:09.397 time. He set the mark despite shredding both rear tires on his Hyundai Genesis Coupe two thirds of the way through the course and losing fifth gear during his run.

Keith Davidson won the vintage car class with a record 13:56.066 time, while Michael Coburn won the quad 450cc motorcycle class in 12:18.858.

Other classes saw racers add to their already impressive resumes.

Clint Vasholtz won his 14th title, winning the super stock car class in 11:39.662, while Davey Durelle won for the 13th time, taking the motorcycle 750cc class in 11:48.649.

Other class champions were: Stuart Sinclair, motorcycle supermoto, 12:16.652; Aaron Guthrie/John Rodriguez, pro trucks, 14:27.029; David Carapetyan/Adam Kneipp, Pikes Peak open, 11:52.837; Randy Schranz, exhibition car/truck, 12:28.151; Greg Tracy, motorcycle 1205cc, 12:29.120; James Vidmar Jr., motorcycle quad 500, 12:34.598; Joe Prussiano, motorcycle 450cc, 12:32.825; Chuck Lee, motorcycle 250cc, 13:08.534; Eddie Mulder, motorcycle vintage, 13:37.595; and David Hennessy, motorcycle sidecar, 15:57.623.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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