Jeff Zwart, driving a Porsche 911 GT2 RS street car which he drove from LA to the event, climbed to within 1.5 seconds of pole-sitter Rod Millen - who is driving much lighter, purpose-built race car - after changing both tires and driving style to accommodate the advantages that his 620-horsepower Porsche gives him.
"Because the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is a street car, adjusting handling and performance is not the same as it would be on a race car, and I was having trouble feeling comfortable going as fast as I needed to for a good qualifying run,” said Zwart.
“Then, we worked with Michelin to switch from racing rain tires to grooved slicks, and suddenly the car’s handling came to me. Also, since the 620 hp Porsche is geared for more than 200 mph, and I rarely goes above 125 mpg on the mountain, I have learned to use first second and third only – to maximize the engine’s torque and performance to gain speed,” he said.
Pikes Peak Internation Hillclimb Course More Challenging
The course is even more challenging for the veteran Pikes Peak competitors this year, as there are only two miles of gravel left on the mountain, which is slowly being paved completely to help attract additional tourist traffic. By next year, the road, which starts at 9,390 feet above sea level, and ends at 14,110 feet above sea level, will be all tarmac. This, of course, will change the race significantly.
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