UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Famed racing driver and car builder Rhys Millen claimed another world record and overall victory at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past weekend. Millen ascended the 14,000-foot tall Colorado mountain course, which contains 156 turns over 12.42 miles, in 9:46.164.
This year marked the first time in the race’s storied history that the entire course was completely paved. Millen’s time smashed last year’s record of 9:51.278, which was set by Japan’s Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima. Tajima was the first to break the 10-minute barrier up the mountain with his wild Monster Sport Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special. This year, Millen achieved the record over the paved course in his heavily modified Rhys Millen Racing (RMR) Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
For 2012, Millen’s own race team used an enhanced version of last year’s car that set Time Attack 2WD class record with Rhys’ father, Rod Millen, driving the car. Rhys narrowly edged out former 24 Hour of LeMans winner and Pikes Peak rookie Romain Dumas by only 17/1000s of a second. Dumas piloted a specially prepared Porsche 911 GT3R.
For 2012, Millen’s own race team, Rhys Millen Racing (RMR), made additional performance enhancements to the current world-record-setting Genesis Coupe. The team focused on providing maximum grip on the new all-tarmac course that would provide considerably higher average speeds. To do so, the team added a new aero package designed to provide greater downforce to account for the higher speeds and additional grip provided from new, ultra-wide racing slick tires. In the past, teams used treaded tires to account for un-paved portions of the track that were a mix of dirt, rocks, and gravel.
The team also added a new, more potent turbo to last year’s heavily modified Hyundai V6 engine, helping the car create 700 horsepower and 700 lb. ft. of torque. To account for the additional power, the team had to upgrade the brake calipers and add additional cooling ductwork to account for greater temperatures and braking loads created by running on the new tarmac at extreme altitudes. Lastly, the team fine-tuned the car to suit Rhys’ unique rally and drift-oriented driving techniques.
Last year, Rhys narrowly missed the overall win in his dedicated PM580 tubeframe hillclimb racecar. However, he was able to eclipse the famed 10-minute barrier. The special, custom-built chassis was also powered by a specially built 4.1 liter version of Hyundai’s 3.8 liter V6.