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  Article Image gallery (6) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Japan
Produced in:2011
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 28, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe annual Pikes Peak hill-climb has always been one of the most extreme events on the calendar. Steeped in tradition, the first 'Race to the Clouds' was organised on the Pikes Peak Mountain back in 1916. In recent years ever increasing stretches of the 20 km road up the mountain have been paved and the 2011 edition of the famous race was set to be the last run still using parts of the original road. It also represented the final chance to break the magical 10-minute barrier on the mixed surface.

Dominating the event in the last five year was the very experienced Japanese ace Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima. Since 2007 he has an unbeaten record with the Suzuki based specials developed by his own company 'Monster Sport'. This specialist company was established in 1983 and since 1986 has been closely associated with Suzuki, running the manufacturer's various motorsport programs for most of that time. Naturally 'Monster' returned in 2011 to defend his title and, in the process, set a new track record.

His weapon of choice was of course once again Suzuki based, although only very loosely. The purpose built 'SX4' features a steel space-frame chassis clad in carbon-fibre body that bears some resemblance to the Suzuki road car. Massive aerodynamic aids like a very long front splitter and a tall rear wing are fitted to ensure the car performance well on both the paved and gravel sections of the 156-turn course. Suspension is by double wishbones on all corners and the four ventilated disc brakes are fitted with 8-pot calipers.

Powering the very extreme machine, is a twin-turbo V6 engine that displaces just under 3.1 litre. Developed by Monster Sport from a Suzuki production engine, it produces a staggering 910 hp and 890 Nm of torque at sea level. Near the 4,300 metre summit, the reduction of oxygen in the air can cut the power by as much as 30%. A Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox is bolted to the engine to transfer the power to all four wheels of the Pikes Peak Special. The dry weight of the machine is a mere 1,090 kg.

'Monster' Tajima's main opposition came from the Rhys Millen developed and driven Hyundai special. With a time of 10:09.242, he came well short of the 10:01 track record. Overcoming a punctured radiator and power steering problems, 'Monster' did not disappoint and shattered his old time with a 9:51.278 and comfortably taking his sixth straight victory at Pikes Peak. With the road fully paved next year, it is unlikely that this record will stand very long. Despite having turned sixty two days after his impressive drive, 'Monster' Tajima will no doubt be back for another run.

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  Article Image gallery (6) Specifications