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Brit team in Pikes Peak record attempt

Mon, 13 Jul 2009
Mach 2 Racing team is aiming to be the first to beat the ten-minute barrier at the legendary Pikes Peak International Hillclimb on Sunday 19 July.

The all-British team is entering the famous time trial up the Pikes Peak mountain in Colorado Springs, USA, with a 1,150bhp four-wheel-drive Ford RS200 driven by double ex-British Rallycross Champion Mark Rennison, from Darlington.

The 12.4-mile course starts at 9,440 feet and ends at an altitude of 14,110 feet. Its 156 turns, mixture of asphalt and gravel surfaces and sheer drops of up to 6,000 feet make it one of the toughest challenges in motorsport.

"First and foremost, we just want to win, but it would be really nice to do that and crack the ten-minute barrier," said team principle Alan Greenwood.

"The car is in the best shape it's ever been in, and with ex-rallycross champion Mark Rennison behind the wheel this year, I think we stand the best chance ever of getting to the summit in under ten minutes. Nobody has ever done it and we want to be the first."

Mark Rennison was racing a Ford RS200 when he won the 1987 British Rallycross Championship. He won every one of the one of the seven rounds of the championship, an achievement which has never been matched. He went on to win the championship again the following year, with the same car.

"We tested several types of tyre and the Avon rallycross tyres just transformed the car," he said.

"Although this is my first time at Pikes Peak, we have had extensive test sessions and I am happy with the car's handling. The acceleration is awesome, with a 0 to 60mph time of under two seconds and the 140mph maximum speed is achieved from standstill in about six seconds."

The Ford RS200 engine has been developed specifically for Pikes Peak by specialist race engine builder Geoff Page, from Maldon, Essex. The 2.4-litre race engine has a high-output, prototype Garrett turbocharger, which adjusts to changes in atmospheric pressure. That - together with special, high-octane race fuel - normally delivers 950bhp, but 70 litres of nitrous oxide gas boosts the power output to a mind-numbing 1,150bhp.

This will be Geoff's third trip to Pikes Peak with the car and he said of the event: "The start line at over 9,000 feet is high enough to leave anyone short of breath. The steep climb to the finish at over 14,000 feet punishes both drivers and their vehicles. As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength - plus it progressively robs engines of up to 40 percent of their power at the summit.

"Our combination of a very special turbocharger, the boost from the nitrous gas and very sophisticated electronics should give us a significant advantage over the rest, especially at high altitude. But - and it's a big but - up there in the mountains, even in mid-summer, the weather changes by the hour, and on race day, you only get one single run."

Adam Bennett, the race engineer, is based at Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex. He has been rebuilding the car for the past six months and said: "One of our objectives was to make the car as light as possible. First of all, we stripped the car to the bare chassis and carefully rebuilt it using lightweight components wherever possible. The target was to shave away 100kgs and we more than achieved that. The car with driver and full tanks will now sit on the startline at 1000kgs. The overall gearing is low, for improved acceleration and the maximum speed is only 140mph."

The team will practice on different sections of the hillclimb between 15 and 17 July, with each competitor getting just a single timed run up the full course on Sunday 19 July.

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