Still, what really stood out on was the course: the route might now be entirely paved, but it certainly isn’t smooth. Particularly near the top, where the road was built on sand laid over the bedrock, it continues to shift and move as it wears and erodes in the weather. New bumps grow, new dips form.
In practice, Dumas had already discovered several extra bumps this year on the penultimate corner, and had to adjust his line to adapt. And it’s the ever-changing conditions that explain why, instead of a scenic tour or a museum visit, Dumas planned to spend his Saturday studying data and “watching lots of in-car video.” He added: “After three days of practice I’ve improved myself. But I want to see more film to keep learning, corner by corner.”
Dumas will be as prepared as he can be by Sunday morning, but not everything will be in his control. And the biggest obstacle standing between Dumas and a new hill record – whether electric or outright – could be the weather.
“There are no guarantees,” added Campbell. “The weather could change. It can be sunny at the bottom of the mountain, and go from rain to sleet to hail to snow at the top. The weather changes so fast too. Fog can roll in really quickly, and then you can’t see the turns.”
On which note, storms are due to roll into the Pikes Peak region early on Sunday afternoon. As top qualifier, Dumas should be up the mountain before they do, but other competitors might not be so lucky – and that forecast could change.
The preparation is done. All that’s left is to take on the mountain.
Saturday June 23 AM: how passion for Pikes Peak unites competitors
Pikes Peak is infectious. And addictive. The second-oldest motorsport event in America (behind the Indianapolis 500), the mythology of the ‘Race to the Clouds’ and the challenge of conquering the 12.42-mile course’s 156 turns and steep elevation attracts competitors from around the world – and keeps them coming back.
They certainly don’t come for the glamour: while firms such as Volkswagen and Peugeot periodically turn up to set records and make headlines, Pikes Peak really belongs to the clubmen and enthusiasts. Their backgrounds and CVs are as varied as the machinery they drive, but they’re united by a common challenge and passion: conquering America’s Mountain.
Loeb and Peugeot smash record in Pikes Peak 2013
Italian Simone Faggioli is a frontrunner in European and Italian hill climbs, and said that competing on Pikes Peak has been a decades-long dream. Faggioli’s team is running a pair of Norma prototypes for him and team-mate Fabien Bouduban, and have been in the fight for (distant) best-of-the-rest honours behind Romain Dumas.