Back in June Pikes Peak legend David Donner was aiming for a production car record on the mountain, looking to knock down Rhys Millen’s Bentley record time of 10:18.488 set in 2019. Fog, rain, and frozen conditions conspired to rob Donner of his new record on the day of the 2022 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In spite of the awful conditions, Donner and the 992 Turbo S performed about as flawlessly as you can expect, setting the second fastest time of the day and winning in class with a 10:34.053. That’s some 16 seconds shy of the production car record, and much slower than the 911 was capable of. Donner knew immediately that there was more performance on the table, and immediately set about efforts to rectify the situation and prove the car’s potential.
On September 27th of this year, Donner worked with sponsor 000 Magazine and car owner Jim Edwards to get the car back to the mountain for another run. The organizers of PPIHC have begun a new program to hold sanctioned runs outside of competition, called “Pikes Peak Certified Course Times”. Using a similar program, Lamborghini set a new “record” for production SUVs in the prototype Urus Performante back in August. With ideal conditions and the ability to do more than one run to get it right, David Donner popped in a 9:53.541. This is the first time in history that a production car has run under 10 minutes at the mountain, which is certainly impressive, but it ain’t a record.
“Like the Nurburgring, Pikes Peak is a legendary and iconic racing venue – so we’ve designed a new program to facilitate Certified Course Times sanctioned by PPIHC outside of race day,” said Fred Veitch, board chairman for the PPIHC.
As a refresher, the 911 Turbo S was completely stock except for safety equipment, and minor changes to the exhaust and ECU tuning allowed by the PPIHC rules. Without a drop of precipitation in the air the car was fitted with a fresh set of Michelin Pilot Cup 2 R tires.
Obviously, part of the charm and appeal of Pikes Peak is hos difficult it is to actually get a record. You get one run to make it work, and that’s it. If you fail, it’s over. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s over. If you get a flat tire, it’s over. If you have a mechanical issue, it’s over. Them’s the breaks, as they say. This program allowing “records” to be set on a day that isn’t the PPIHC sets a dangerous precedent, cheapening the effort, if you ask me. How many racers could have gone faster than their one shot on race day if they waited for perfect conditions, dense fall air, and more prep time? There’s a reason races are run on race day, and this feels like practice that happens to be timed.
“While Donner’s time isn’t the same as a race day record, all of us wanted to know what this 911 could do – and no one expects a ‘Ring time to be set during a VLN race so long as it’s officially recognized,” said 000 Magazine co-founder Pete Stout.
Am I okay with admitting Donner’s run is cool and the driver and car combined put up a truly impressive time? Absolutely. But I’m going to fall shy of calling this a “record” even though that’s probably what the race organizers will do.