Currently reading: French start-up to race striking hybrid at Pikes Peak
Quarkus, established in 2020, claims 493bhp per tonne from its four-cylinder P3 sports car

French start-up Quarkus, established in November 2020, has announced it will enter a modified version of its P3 sports car in this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

The P3 is a mid-engined two-seater claimed by its maker to have been developed entirely in-house.

It's underpinned by a carbonfibre chassis and is powered by a mild-hybrid four-cylinder engine of indeterminate capacity, said to produce 296bhp.

The entire package weighs 600kg, giving the car a power-to-weight ratio of 493bhp per tonne – higher than the Porsche 911 GT3 RS (357bhp per tonne) but below the plug-in hybrid Ferrari 296 GTB (557bhp per tonne).

A multi-year testing programme began last month at Circuit des Ecuyers, located between Paris and Reims in France, and it has since completed another session at Pôle Mécanique Alès Cévennes near Montpellier.

Its first real trial, however, will come in Colorado, the US, in June. It will be piloted by test driver Bruce Jouanny, who has previously raced at Le Mans and in various touring car series.

Quarkus Pikes Peak rear quarter

“We often hear about real-world testing, and you couldn't dream of a better place to do that than Pikes Peak,” said Jouanny. “It's a road course but with very specific constraints: the altitude, the bumps, the hairpin corners, along with fast sections, not to mention the drop-offs.”

Quarkus's goal doesn't appear to be overall victory but instead to accelerate the development of the P3, which is scheduled to enter production in 2026.

Founder Damien Alfano said in a statement: “To take on Pikes Peak while the first development prototype has just been presented is clearly not a reasonable idea. No constructor does that.”

He said it's instead an incredible opportunity to boost the development of the Quarkus”, with "three months to complete what normally would take nine”.

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The brand’s entry will be supported by RD Limited, the motorsport outfit run by Pikes Peak regular (and fellow Frenchman) Romain Dumas.

In 2018, Dumas set the hillclimb’s record time of 7min 57.148sec behind the wheel of the electric Volkswagen ID R prototype.

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a feature on the MG Metro 6R4

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like an Alpine A110 or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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Peter Cavellini 6 February 2024

Escapee from a computer game?, anyway, I hope it does well.