- 478kW/850Nm Porsche 911 Turbo S will aim to rise above the clouds faster than any production car before it.
- Bentley holds the Pike's Peak production car record, which was set in 2019 in a Continental GT.
- Pike's Peak Hillclimb is one of the oldest motorsport events in the world, spanning two World Wars.
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It is affectionately known as The Race to the Clouds, but the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is hardly a stairway to heaven. As numerous drivers have experienced since 1916, the path up the rocky mountains can be a one-way ticket to the trenches. It's the oldest motorsport event in the USA, and organisers only stopped it for the two World Wars.
As a proving ground, akin to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Pikes Peak is a stomping yard for the world's leading car makers. They come in numbers to send production vehicles up the hill in spectacular fashion. The current record holder in the production car category is the Bentley Continental GT. It set a time of 10 minutes and 18.488 seconds back in 2019. Porsche plans to blow the Bentley away at the 2022 running of the hill, and it's sending, arguably, the greatest road-going 911 they've ever made.
Pike's Peak Porsche 911 Turbo S with Lightweight Package
Three-time Pike's Peak King of the Mountain David Donner will pursue the production car record at 100th Pikes Peak in Porsche's latest 911 flagship. Rhys Millen set the time to beat in the Continental GT in 2019, bettering a time of 10:26.896 set by Donner himself in a 991-generation 911 Turbo S in 2014. Donner will come to the fight this year with a 992-generation Turbo S with the Lightweight Package that belongs to Porsche collector Jim Edwards to recapture the record.
When Donner joined Edwards and 000 ( an independently printed Porsche magazine) editor Pete Stout for dinner and a casual chat in Napa Valley last year, the conversation turned quickly to the 100th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Stout had previously partnered with Donner at Pikes Peak in 2020 when their 911 GT2 RS Clubsport claimed a record win in the Time Attack 1 class, and it wasn't long before a plan was hatched to attempt the production car record.
"Enthusiasts know a fast time on Pikes Peak much like they know a fast lap time on the Nordschleife. The variables on the mountain present a unique challenge, as do the risks," Stout expounds. "With no way to practice the full course, you get one shot every 12 months – if the weather cooperates. When it comes to international intrigue, I'd put Pikes Peak up there with Le Mans, Monaco, and the Isle of Man TT. Now consider that you can still race a street-legal car at Pikes Peak on Sunday and drive it to lunch on Monday, much as you might have with an early 911 in the first golden era of the sports car."
Factory standard, but specially prepared for battle
The 2022 911 Turbo S that Donner will race was ordered through Porsche Centre in Florida, and it went straight from the showroom to the race shop for competition prep. 000 then wrapped the car in a unique livery themed around 'Print isn't Dead', using high-resolution images from a recent article in the magazine about the birth of the 911 Turbo.
"Many of us think of the Turbo as a luxurious 911," explains Stout, "but the earliest Turbos were fairly light cars that homologated the 934 and 935 for Group 4 and Group 5 racing. The article explored what the first 911 Turbo was like to drive in the context of the 1973 Carrera RS. The Lightweight Package for today's Turbo S removes 50 kilograms."
For his part, Donner is approaching the 100th staging of the world's highest Hillclimb with typical intensity: "I've always gone to Pikes Peak to win or set a record. The stakes are too high unless you're there to prove something and can do so professionally. My family's history with Porsche at Pikes Peak stems from my father, Bob Donner, who won three times in Porsche Spyders in 1960, 1961, and 1962. My last three wins here have been with a Porsche, so it would be meaningful to make it four."
Do you think the 911 Turbo S has what it takes to snatch the record from the Continental GT? Let us know in the comments section.
The milestone 100th Running of The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo this year, will take place on Sunday, 26 June. You can watch the Pike's Peak Hillclimb here.