Jeff Zwart, from Woody Creek, Colorado, driving the specially- prepared Luminox Watch Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, has won and set a new record in the 2WD Time Attack class in Sunday’s 88th running of the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. Watch the video below to see for yourself what it takes. Pay particular attention to the transition from pavement to dirt!!
Zwart, now a seven-time Pikes Peak class winner, not only broke Rhys Millen’s 2009 class record by 38 seconds (after smashing his qualifying record by 18 seconds), but went faster than all but five of the entire field – three Unlimited Class and two Open Wheels cars, all with 600-plus horsepower. His 911 GT3 Cup car also beat all the production based race cars entries, 2WD and 4WD. Nobulhiro Tajima, from Japan, won the hillclimb overall in an eight-cylinder, turbocharged Suzuki 4WD one-off race car with an Unlimited Class entry.
Zwart said the key to his victory was the confidence that build up every time he drove the car.
“In my previous six victories – all in Porsche street-based turbo cars – I spent most of my practice time trying to tame the car to fit this difficult course; With this Porsche 911 Cup car, it was clear to me from the beginning that the car was challenging me to drive my best, and I went faster every time I stepped behind the wheel. Each time I thought I was asking too much from the car, especially when I carried maximum speed into one of those hairpins, the Porsche responded and challenged me to push even harder,” said Zwart.
He also repeated his amazement from Friday’s qualifying session that the normally-aspirated car didn’t lose horsepower from its 9,000-foot-elevation start and the 14,000-foot finish line. A combination of the 450-hp, 3.8-liter Porsche Cup car engine and expert engine map adjustments from Porsche Motorsport North America gave Zwart the performance of a lifetime.
Zwart again praised the Pirelli road racing rain tires, which he felt held their grip evenly on both the gravel and tarmac surfaces, a necessity as the course has been transformed from all gravel to half and half. Next year, with two more miles of the 12-mile course scheduled for paving, road-racing- based tires will make more sense than ever. The team made some adjustments to tire pressures on all four wheels prior to qualifying. Pirelli had developed a tire for Zwart based on the rain tire they use for the Rolex Grand-Am series.
“Without Luminox Watches, Porsche Motorsport North America, and Pirelli tires support, this victory would not have been possible,” said Zwart.
Porsche Motorsport started with a 2007 Cup car, updated it to 2010 specifications, and installed a new 450 horsepower 3.8-liter engine currently in use in the Patron GT3 Challenge, American Le Mans Series Challenge Class, and the Porsche Supercup series. The engine management mapping was modified to perform well in high altitude as the race starts at 9,390 feet and finishes at the summit, 14,110 feet above sea level, and ride height was increased for the gravel sections of the course. The underbody was also modified to protect the car from gravel and stones similar to rally competition. Zwart has now won his class at Pikes Peak – all in Porsches - in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2010, setting new class records four times. Most recently, before this weekend, he co- drove a Porsche Cayenne with Pikes Peak veteran Paul Dallenbach at the challenging TransSyberia Rally (Moscow to Mongolia) in 2007. He also has an SCCA PRO Rally Championship (1990) and a SCORE Baja 1000 class win (2004) to his credit.
The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, built on the same assembly line in Stuttgart as the street-legal Porsche 911s, is raced all over the world in the Porsche Supercup series as well as various Porsche Carrera Cup and Challenge Cups, including IMSA Patron GT3 Challenge. New last year was the addition of the American Le Mans Series Challenge class, where the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars contest the full endurance series run by the Le Mans racers.