Now that Pikes Peak is paved to the top, it's become a competitive hotbed for road-cars of all kinds, but Porsche remains dominant. This year will be especially interesting in the production-based Time Attack 2 class. Pikes Peak veteran and 4-time winner David Donner will be racing a 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S entered by Porsche of Colorado Springs and Road Scholars. His main competition? Often-time Porsche driver and many-time autocross and road-racing champion Randy Pobst will be racing a 2009 Nissan GTR entered by Pikes Peak Racing. It's a race worth watching.
Consider the history
Donner is a four-time winner of the race, three times overall in the open-wheel division driving a Donner/Dykstra DD3-Chevrolet special and once in the unlimited division driving a Palatov special. Donner is part of an elite group of Pikes Peak racers who have won on all three surfaces: gravel, gravel/pavement, and full pavement. Others who have accomplished this feat include the likes of Rhys Millen, Greg Tracy, (who has won both on a motorcycle and in a car), Paul Dallenbach, and Nobuhiro Tajima, among others. His association with Porsche continues a long Donner family history with the brand. Donner’s dad Bob Donner Jr. won on America’s mountain three times in the late 50s and early 60s driving variations of the Porsche RSK and RS60 Spyders. David's brother Bob Donner III also won in the open-wheel division. David Donner also placed well in a different iteration of Time Attack in 2013 driving a GT3 Cup when he won class pole position and placed 7th overall in a weather-fraught race with a time of 9:53.581.
Pobst is well known in road-racing circles as a 4-time World Challenge GT Champion and a slew of championships and wins in other classes. But he has far less experience on Pikes Peak. He's raced on the mountain a couple of times previously, but has no recorded wins. Still, his challenge this year is a solid one. Pikes Peak Racing is a new shop, but has seasoned mechanic Travis Smith as its crew-chief.
On Donner's side, Dave Petitti, who was crew chief for Fred Veitch's Time Attack 2 winning 996TT in 2014 is overseeing Donner's car. Both teams have been testing extensively throughout the springs months at Colorado tracks.
Donner sees the 991 Turbo S as a perfect challenger for the win in Time Attack 2. With nearly 600hp available, very large ceramic disc-brakes, and four-wheel steering, he sees it as the perfect mountain car, perfectly suited to getting the most through each of the mountain's 156 corners. Though Porsche has recorded two runs below the 10-minute barrier (Dumas in 2012 and Donner in 2013), both of those were with racing-platform GT3 versions. Many people are wondering if the 991 Turbo S might be the first production car to get under 10 minutes in Donner's very capable hands.
Time Attack 1 vs Time Attack 2
In the past, the Time Attack class was a catch-all for street-based cars like the Porsche 911, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Viper but its rules were wide open, meaning that production cars would be running against one-off purpose-built specials. Many consider the Hyundai Elantra that won overall in 2012 and took class honors in 2013 to be an all-out prototype housed in a street-car body. For the 2014 race, the division was split into Time Attack 1 for race-prepped street-based cars and Time Attack 2, which has strict rules restricting what kinds of things can be changed or removed from the cars. Time Attack 2 is meant to encourage both independent entrants and corporate manufacturers who would like to display the performance of their production models.
With Pikes Peak specialist Donner driving a state of the art road-going Porsche and road-racing champion Pobst driving a Nissan GTR, Time Attack 2 could be the class to watch at this year’s running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Qualifying is June 24-26 with the 99th anniversary of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Brought to You by Gran Turismo on Sunday, June 28th, 2015. This will be one to watch.
All photos ©Sean Cridland/FLATSIXES.com