Robin Shute is aiming for the head at Pikes Peak this weekRobin Shute will tackle Colorado’s fearsome mountain climb this Sunday
A observe measuring 12.42 miles, that includes 156 turns, rising 4720ft to a heady altitude of 14,110ft… Just like the Nürburgring Nordschleife and the Isle of Man TT course, the Pikes Peak Hillclimb within the mountains of Colorado stays a welcome exception to the rule that fashionable motorsport is sanitised.
This weekend, the 97th ‘Race to the Clouds’ will herald the standard various roster of all-comers, together with amongst them one who goals to turn out to be the primary Brit to overcome Pikes Peak since its first working method again in 1916.
Norfolk-born circuit racer Robin Shute is the son of long-time Lotus worker Tony Shute. A US resident since 2011, he first headed to Pikes Peak with Faraday in 2017, however when the electrical start-up selected to not return Shute made his personal approach to Colorado. This yr he’s brimming with confidence landmark general victory may very well be his for the taking.
“Final yr when Faraday pulled out the group of people that had been engaged on it nonetheless wished to go, so we bought a automotive from Canada and went about modifying it for the hill,” explains Shute. “We have now a few key companions and sponsors, however the premise is it’s a gaggle of buddies engaged on a automotive out of a house storage. It’s not an expert group, however we’re all professionals in automotive industries.”
There’s no all-electric Volkswagen ID R this yr to blitz the course file, which stands at a staggering 7min 57.1sec due to Romain Dumas’s 2018 effort. However Shute reckons his modded prototype has data of its personal to understand beneath the 8min 30sec mark, together with a historic general victory.
He runs a Wolf GB08, powered by an HPD Honda Racing four-cylinder 2.Zero-litre engine fitted with a Borg Warner turbo, all good for 600bhp (a minimum of on the beginning line). Able to a gear-limited 162mph on sticky Pirelli rubber and weighing in at simply 518kgs, that is some weapon for a slender, usually slippery mountain street, outlined by sheer drops that go away no room for error.
“The automotive now is just not far off the power-to-weight ratio of an early 1990s Formulation 1 automotive,” states Shute with out emotion. “Pikes Peak is exclusive – the one factor that comes shut is the Isle of Man. You’re very a lot on the will of the mountain. Each time you go up there’s one thing completely different, and you’ll’t drive it flat out, for self-preservation causes. And from a laws standpoint, the principles are extremely open. My ambition has at all times been to make as quick a automotive as potential, and that’s not sometimes allowed in motorsport. However it’s at Pikes Peak.”
Past the plain hazard, the technical problem is to optimise energy over a major climb in altitude. For typical combustion engines turbos are greatest, however huge ones will run out of puff because the air thins. There’s science to discovering the fitting compromise. “We’re about 600bhp in the beginning and we in all probability drop to about 500 by the end,” says Shute.
Two weekends of testing on a course that has been all-asphalt since 2011 precedes race week, however the one time rivals full the entire 12.1-mile course in a single go is on race day itself. “It wants all of your consideration,” says Shute with wry British understatement.
Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Michele Mouton, Ari Vatanen, Sebastien Loeb, Romain Dumas… As lists of winners go, it’s not half dangerous. Robin Shute will want his head within the clouds on Sunday if he’s to hitch it.
Pictures contributed by Joel Yust and Nathan Leach-Proffer
How Volkswagen broke the Pikes Peak hillclimb all-time file
A passenger lap round Millbrook with Sebastien Loeb
Interview: Romain Dumas on Pikes Peak and Goodwood