The build-up to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is fraught with trial, tribulations, and sometimes danger. Nonetheless, the Porsches entered for the 2015 running of the Race to the Clouds, are finding strong success in the face of some daunting competition from a couple of Nissan GTRs and a Cobra.
Jeff Zwart's GT3/GT2 "hybrid" has been dominating the Time Attack 1 practice and qualifying sessions all week, breaking the previous Time Attack 1 qualifying record by more than 4 seconds. Zwart's main competition, a full-race-prepped GTR driven by Cole Powelson was lucky to make the field after crashing heavily in pre-dawn conditions at nearly 14,000' on the first day of on-mountain testing. Powelson's team did well to get the car repaired and ready to run for Sunday's race, but with limited running, it'll be hard for driver and car to put in a competitive time.
Time Attack 2
The Time Attack 2 class for "lightly-prepped" street cars has been a see-saw battle between Randy Pobst in a 2009 Nissan GTR and David Donner driving a 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S entered by nearby Porsche of Colorado Springs. On some days the Porsche is a couple of seconds faster, on others it's the Nissan. Despite the competition, Pobst and Donner have become fast friends, often seen in discussion before and after each run. When it came to brass-tacks, Donner took pole for Sunday's race, but only by a second.
Pikes Peak Vintage
In Pikes Peak Vintage, perennial Porsche runner Chris Lennon is running his 1973 RSR clone again after his first entry for the race -- an Open Class 914 turbo -- bent its crankshaft in testing. Lennon's annual competitor Ralf Christensen of Sweden is running a Cobra this year to replace his usual Mustang GT-350. Lennon suffered an "off" on Wednesday's practice. Amazingly, the car suffered only minor damage and Team Lennon was back on track to qualify first in class on Thursday.
Porsche Looks Strong
Reading this you'll come to the easy conclusion: Porsche is looking very strong for Sunday's race. In some ways it's better than that. in someways not so much. Zwart's strong running meant that he's not only pole-sitter in TA1 for Sunday's race, he also qualified SECOND OVERALL! Only Rhys Millen's megawatt-powered electric prototype car was faster. So Zwart is in line for an 8th win in class, but also a possible overall win. Reliability and weather are the only factors which could deter him...both have done it before.
Donner has as much experience as anyone on the mountain and his Porsche has been running strong all week. But Pobst is a consummate racer and his Nissan has run strongly all week.
Lennon and his Porsche are always fast on the lower portions, but they suffer from lack of power on the upper portions at high altitude. His competitor Christensen will come on strong with a couple hundred extra horsepower. In any case, it's shaping up to be a great race for Porsches and Porsche fans!