Pikes Peak 2016 Time Attack 2 Class EVO 8 driven by Australian rally driver Jeff Denmeade of Meadsports with prep and crew support by Road Race Engineering. Tuning by David Hinde of Merlin Tuning.
Jeff’s recap of race day:
After seeing that we had a small chance to take the number 2 Viper, we knew 4th place was ours to loose, a finish was more important than a fantasy. The mountain was yet to play all it’s cards, it had 10 hours left to teach some lessons.
With an amazing amount of red flags that left us bewildered, with a huge amount of cars being turned around and sent back down the hill for restarts the day dragged on.
Finally the gates opened for us and we were let into the start zone area, safety checked, and given the clear order, we were now under starter orders. Revs raised, launch control enabled. Great start! The best all weekend. A good start, even on a rally usually, seemingly, sets the atmosphere for the mood for the run.
Concentrating on accuracy first for the lower section, quickly in 4th gear hitting all the high speed apexes, all in 4th gear. This sets the mind up for the run, accuracy first, speed second.
In all the run was effortless, even faultless, but at some point it felt like the car simply ran out of air, not pulling as strong as it did in practice, no real time to fight it, just had to keep getting it to the apexes. Suddenly cars were stopped all over the course, hoods up and steam coming out, in large places there was little grip on the pavement due to heat, brake zones were harder to read with over run forcing diving into the apexes.
Data later showed that the car ran out of air, due to a zone on the mountain where there was simply no humidity to cool the air going into the airbox, or radiator. The car became a barometer meter itself. The car spiked from 97 degrees Celsius, to a whopping 113 in this odd ‘dead-zone’. But the old dog hung in there.
Running the same specification we ran in 2010 when we won the Time attack class, even the same turbo, the old EVO proved it can run reliably, with simple ecu updates and reflashes running constant all week.
Typical of Pikes, we were entertained with a ice storm, then a hail storm at the top, leaving all of us to tip toe down a few miles on the ice with race rubber, when we were rounded up let loose to come down under a safety car. How we all made it down without someone sliding off is beyond me.
Only one car didn’t make up due to the storm, when the Ecoboost Mustang simply couldn’t go up the hills on the ice, at some point sliding backwards down the road, deciding to park it for safety sake.
End result, 4th, which was expected, and achieved, and not wasted. We drive the car up into the trailer on it’s own power, lock it down, and have a post race drink in the spa.
In reflection, it was an amazing year, and the team was simply the best to have around me. Mike and Matt and Bryce from Road Race Engineering in California, and our tuner David Hinde (aka Merlin) from Sydney kept the car at it’s peak, and were always ahead of the curve on anything that may have happened. We’ll be back.
Cheers to all.
Final results for Time Attack 2 Production were:
1st Place Nick Robinson 2017 Acura NSX Hybrid – 10:28
2nd Place Kevin Wesley 2016 Viper ACR – 10:39
3rd Place Stephanie Reaves 2016 Viper ACR – 10:56
4th Place JEff Denmeade 2003 EVO 8 – 11:32
5th Place Fumio Nutahara 2015 GT86 12:36
DNF Kash Singh 2016 Ford Mustang
Friday is the last of 4 days of practice on the mountain. For us, this was the middle section. This starts at Glen Cove just past the ski area and goes up past the tree line and through the “W”s and stops at Devils Playground. All the go up a couple minutes apart. Once all the cars go up, they clear the road and send everyone back down. The cars do any prep or changes and go back up again. We hope to get 4 or sometimes 5 runs on a short section like this. The drivers don’t get to connect the entire course until race day.
The car had been running fine all week. We were looking to see how the additional ducting that we had made the day before had changed. In the practice sessions we run from daybreak until 9 am. The weather is very cool. But come race day our start time wont be until about noon. And instead of running a short 4-5 mile section, we’ll be running the entire 15 mile course flat out. We wanted to compare coolant temps here with the higher to[ section that we ran earlier in the week.
We were also able to track the tire pressure at the altitude went higher to best set a start pressure. The run group that we are in has some wild cars. A good Pikes Peak car always looks like it was drawn by an 8 year old. Because of the thin air up this high, the aero is always exaggerated. You end up seeing crazy open wheel cars with giant double wings in the front and rear. Tunnels and diffusers, canards out a foot in each direction. We see the open class electric cars of Rhys Millen and “Monster” Tajima, stock cars, Mike Ryan’s Freightliner semi-truck, every concept of an open wheel car you can imagine…
Here is a video of the middle section practice run. One run, three different camera angles back to back.
As day two arrived, it was a 2:45 am wake up call to get ready to head up the mountain. It takes about a half hour to get through the gate and to the pits. Then set up, get the car and driver warmed up and be ready for the session to start as soon as it is light enough to drive without headlights. We have the Pikes Peak Highway available for practice and qualifying runs until 9 am each day. The competitors are divided into two groups of cars and one group of motorcycles and quads. Each group runs a different section of the 15 mile 152 turn course. The start line is at 9,000 feet with the finish just above 14,000 feet. The air is thin at the top!
It often works out that you get only 2 or 3 runs on the longer bottom section. On the two upper sections you can get as many as 5 runs if everyone behaves. Today will be our day for qualifying on the bottom section. It was the other race car group’s qualifying yesterday and will be the motorcycles for qualifying tomorrow. Early on there were some offs and mechanical break downs with the other competitors and it became clear that we would only get 2 runs. We chose to concentrate on data logging for boost and to monitor temperatures.
Our MeadeSports/Road Race EVO 8, which was taken back to stock configuration for this year’s event put in a good effort to qualify just 1.6 seconds behind the Electric Class Tesla running in Ludicrous Mode. We had been running 3rd in our class all week during practice. Running a bit behind the 2017 Hybrid Acura NSX and the faster of the two 2016 Viper ACRs. The second 650 hp Viper ACR finally found its mountain footing this morning and we were bumped. Our qualifying time of 4:48 put us 4th in class.
In all, the team was satisfied with the running and as the times got quicker. Jeff was actually faster than he had run in qualifying in 2012 in the Australian built carbon fiber Skelta sports car.
“We take these qualifying times as an indication, but race day is so very different than practice and qualifying as we run in the heat of the day on race day, whereas qualifying is done in the cooler early morning. We have half the power of the top 3 cars now ahead of us, but the mountain saves its joker cards until race day” Jeff said. “We’re getting closer to the business end of the week of work, I’m exhausted, but excited”, Jeff went onto say.
Tuesday the MeadeSports Road/Race Engineering team took use of the optional practice day to run on the bottom section to start data gathering and sighting the twisty tarmac that is this section of the spectacular Pikes Peak road. This day isn’t a mandatory day; mandatory practice starts Wednesday the 22nd.
1St in Class, and with the new qualifying record! thanks to Dave (aka Merlin) Hinde, and my other special half, and navigator, Cath.
We will post a full report later, this image is from the newspaper here in Colorado!
Photos by Kevin Hahn Photography.
Place Car# Driver Name Vehicle Make Vehicle Model Type Course Time
1 16 Jeff Denmeade Mitsubishi Evolution 4WD 11:53.2
2 61 Karl Scheible Subaru Sti 4WD 11:55.0
3 156 Dave Kern Mitsubishi Evolution 4WD 12.55.4
I have been looking for results but have not found anything for the smaller classes yet. Cant find anything for AWD Time Attack other than Jeff Zwart won with his Porsche in 2WD TimeAttack. Looks like Rhys had tranny problems and more and didn’t get a chance at the overall or record. Tajima won overall but was off the record of 10:01.
Here is all I have for now:
Being a rest day, today we borrowed a lift and rotated the tyres, changed the oil, bled the brakes, bled the clutch, and did a checkover.
Tomorrow, Sunday, we race. We have to be up by 3:00am, and be at the hill around 3;30, we are scheduled to be on the hill competing by 10:30-ishy.
They hope to have us all run by 1pm, including over 200 motorcycles. Hopefully all will be safe, and well.
We are very happy with how it all has gone so far, how could we not! We set the new record for qualifying, but we have a target painted on our backs, and there are many aiming at it, not only in our classes, but also the ‘open’ class of cars of which we beat all but one.
Our focus now is slightly different, we had a plan to always run 70% speed but 100% accuracy, and I really hope my mindset stays with that, it will assist us in finding the rhythm early. Getting to the top is more important than winning for us now.
The record we set will stay for the year, as they pave the last half right after the end of this years event, next year it will tumble dramatically.
May all be well in your world, Chase your dreams, cherish the friends you have. Life is short, you only get one shot at it, and remember,you miss 100% of the shots you dont take!
Here’s the result from today! We were fastest in class in Qualifying and set a new AWD Time Attack Qualifying record!!! Which means we beat ACP in his full house AMS NOS energy drink Evo. ACP is a good friend of mine, and it makes it sweeter.
Here are some nice pics of the car at speed. Thanks Mike, we are very happy, we just have to get through the big day on Sunday.
I asked Jeff about his suspension:
My suspension is Ohlins coilovers with my spec springs by Swift. We spent two days at a test center dialing the suspension in Australia, and then ran that at the Mt Buller Hillclimb event in Australia, which is the setting we are using now, so you could say we spent 4 days and many $1000s dialing the suspension and geometry in, and all focused on Pikes.Even sweeter of course is we are tormenting the AMS guys! All for RRE, of course, in the line of duty… ha ha.
I think the ACP car (AMS) is running on a stock motor right now after all the motor problems this week. Tomorrow is a day off I think and they might have time to get some of their power back.
Today we were at the very top of the hills, practicing on the last 3- 3.5 miles. Mostly very loose gravel, but very very fast! This is where we have to compromise with our lines, and hope there will be a good dusting on the race line on race day. The Kumhos are holding up, even on the gravel sections, at times, with the right dusting some of the gravel road has as much grip as tarmac. We shall see.
The yellow Mini is an all girl team that are fun to be around. They’re giving it a shot, and a good one as well. Rhys stopped half way through the practice stage with a problem, on the previous run his guys were trying to source a ‘glitch’ via data log, but I guess they didnt find it.
We also had a casualty today, the white ex-prodrive Sti (GC8) rolled on one of the fast down hill sections into a hairpin. Car looks worse than it is, but will be an easy fix! We’ve offered to go around and assist with hammers, which I think we will have to do. He is in our class, but we need the competition, if for nothing else, to justify us being here.
The speeds on the gravel were very fast! I never look at my speedo, EVER! But Merlin (Dave Hinde our Ecu guy) asked what speed we were pulling, now I hate speed so I never look at what the speedo is saying, but this time I decided to sneak a peak at speed, and it confirmed why I never want to look. Going around a left hander, sliding, setting the car up for the exit, I run down the next hill full throttle upshifting, the car is squirrily and moving around a fair bit on the Kumho V710s, I take a peak as I reach the very point I need to brake it the speedo is past 120mph (200kph+) I then have to slow the car down for a fast but treacherous right hander which I swing the car through with a small flick.
Then on the way back I found we were all going quite rapid back to the start to do another (of 4 total) timed run, 3 of us travelling together hitting 100mph switching between the tarmac and gravel.
Oh, almost forgot, I was standing there after the drivers meeting, which took place at 5am, keeping Cath warm, and chatting to the BMW boys, when this hooded figure walks up and walks into me, I knew someone was playing games and pulled the hood off to reveal my old buddy Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP to the world), it was a great surprise seeing him again, and tonite we shall catch up on lots of missed drinks. Tomorrow’s Blog entry will n doubt be all about how I should stop drinking and how Im having trouble focusing because I’ll be hung over and that I promise to never drink again.
Andrew runs and evo 8 as well, but highly modded with carbon, well, everything. He’s a great competitor too, although he’s not in our class. It’s going to be fun having him around.
I love Pikes Peak, I can see now why it is such a drug for a lot of people!
One thing I can tell you is the Media is very thick on the ground at all Practice points. So much so they actually stand on the road with their video camera, even on the apexes, but it’s a little hard to say ‘apex off camera man’, it wont be good if he isnt there the next run.
As you can imagine being up the top of this huge mountain before sunrise gives an awesome view of the sun arriving for the day! The air is fresh and chilly, the head spins come and go when you get out of the car for a walk.
Videos will be loaded later today, all of which were taken by Cat’s mom, Michelle, who has been terrific to have around. Check out the cute navigator in the bottom pic!
The shot third from the bottom is Rhys Millen’s animal! This car will be taking the record! My fav shot is the first one (what, not the one with my car in it??) with the sunrise over the eastern US seaboard, and the trucks and guys standing on the edge of the road. ‘Majestic’ comes to mind.
Till next time
Well we got up at 2;30 am to be at the mountain by 3:30 am to be in position for our first practice. We had the middle section today, tomorrow we are on the very gravelly top, and Friday we will be running/practicing on the bottom. This works out very well for us as they use the bottom section for qualifying, so those that had it today, ie; all the bikes, quads etc, were in fact qualifying. We wont have to worry about that for another couple of days.
We did 6 test runs and learnt a lot, we saw no need to do anymore as it just wears on the clutch and tyres.
We also were given a test set of Elig competition brake pads, and I have to say, these were good, flying up to the first hairpin, flat in 4th gear, my notes say brake at the sign, but flying up to it foot down in 4th, 3000 foot drop off the side I thought ‘am I crazy, that’s too close to the turn’, but I gave it a shot and whammo’d the brake pedal and the car stopped 20 feet short of the corner. Great pads!!
The evo got its new tyres mounted yesterday, so we were bedding the tyres in and heat cycling them, but they came through on their first run.
Right now we really need a nap, not just because of the early start, but because we both didnt sleep last night, and we get to do it all again tomorrow. Umm, I mean tonite, well, you know what I mean.
On a sad note, Dave Kern blew his engine in his evo, it was an AMS special stroker, and it wouldve been a true powerhouse, but it seems the timing belt broke, so Dave has taken it back to his house and we’ve offered to help in any way. We hope it gets back together real quick.
Well, the time had come to prove we are capable of reading, and we went into drivers’ registration, handed over all the docs, and copies of everything, and got signed off! Next it was over to scrutineering and tech inspection, which also went very smoothly. Right behind us was Monster Tajima’s car. What a machine that is! No photos give it justice.
Scrutineering done, Drivers briefing done, Rookie briefing done. Fuel canisters filled, evo filled, alignment (basic) done, Kumho tyres mounted and balanced and done.
Tomorrow we get up at 2:30 am and head off for first practice. Let me show you some of the cars that ran through tech today. Enjoy these pictures, and check out these evos that are running.
Well, we got out of bed, just, had waffles and coffee and headed out on the ‘road trip’ to our destination: Pikes Peak.
What a drive. Sometimes boring, sometimes incredibly spectacular! Check the shots in these photos, although these were done with a camera phone, they have come out quite good. From boring open deserts and fields to some beautifully rugged terrain.
The climb to our final altitude was a long and slow one, but all good, and at times we climbed to over 11,500 feet and finally, Colorado, which is actually on a very high plateau that sits about 6500-7000 feet. We did find ourselves gasping at times for deeper breaths of air.
We are now in Colorado springs which will be our home for the next 10 days. Tomorrow we clean the evo, confirm our order for our E85 race fuel, check out Pikes Peak for a pre-recce, and start to get things in order for the event.
More importantly, we are here, and time to finally relax, maybe sleep in, and get into the time zone and altitude. One thing that came to mind driving along looking up at the huge rock monoliths that skirt the highway that runs along parts of what seems to be the Grand Canyon are these beautiful and huge and majestic and imposing rock formations was ‘it’s bigger than you’, if you get that at all.
Well, we’ve been to the top a few times now, writing our notes and then checking them. The bottom starts twisty and fast, with bumpy tarmac, then it goes to fast hard ‘dirt’ that will seem like tarmac when driving on it, then back to proper tarmac, then onto full gravel dirt, which may well have a line with most of the gravel brushed off by the time we run on it.
Our first recce when we got to the top of the hill, we got out and walked around and went inside the shop they have there, and Cath immediatley almost fainted from lack of oxygen. We ended up seeing the EMT’s service quite a few people, and even saw one rushed back down to the bottom, thrown into an ambulance and whisked away.
The road is forever changing, it was changing just between recces. Getting to the apexes is the #1 key for us, accuracy is tantamount. Speed will come.
Will add more images and details later. Keep safe.
We got our new Kumho tyres delivered, and put them in the room, once we put them in the corner I stood back, and suddenly I felt right at home, tools, helmets, tyres, all next to the bed – ahhhh, really is just like home.
And then the sticker guy showed up to install the numbers on the doors of the evo. We need these on to go through tech inspection tomorrow, and better if a pro installs them.
Their rental truck/buy a beater truck plan fell through and Jeff was getting ready to drive the car to Pikes Peak and rough the weekend without a truck and trailer. I cant imagine running the event like that so we offered up the Dodge shop truck for towing duty.
The next day, Wednesday, it was off to GT Fabrications (ebay name evo05) for our new Hans helmets and hans devices, collected the truck, dropped the rental car off, picked up the rented trailer and headed back to Road Race Engineering to collect and load the evo.
Loaded up we headed up to northern Los Angeles to meet up with good friend Brendan, another good steak, quite a few laughs and then we crashed at his house for the night, but not before we dragged poor Cath through some photo albums at Brendans’ showing some of my old race cars I used to run. Brendan is the drivetrain engineer at Honda US race team HQ, running the Acura’s in ALMS series and at Le Mans. So when you watch the ALMS series and see the Acuras’ kicking butt, know that that is Brendan’s work, along with a team of course. Brendan is an early Datsun afficiando, having an early 510 wagon and 240Z at his house.
We are now somewhere in Utah, a small town called Richfield, and with 550 miles down, and 510 to go to get to Colorado Springs we will be on the road again tomorrow. Right now, we are off to have dinner and a cold tall beer…
On the road again….
Got up and had wonderful waffles this morning, and then called my close friend Jay Jones (aka Jaybird) and arranged to have lunch in the middle of his hectic schedule. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed being in his company again. Both Cath and I had a great 4.5 hour lunch.
Then it was onto Road Race engineering, these guys are pure pro’s and like MEEK in Sydney, there isnt much they dont know about evos. Once the workshop was cleared, we moved in to grab a lift and work on installing the new K&N intake system from i-autosport (iautosport.com.au for all your aftermarket needs, both European and Japanese brands).
When we finished this, Scot Gray the ECU guy showed and we set about getting a reading as a baseline on 98 octane (91 in the US). Once it was confirmed all the perimeters were set, we had a run, and with Meek hot side piping, Meek ECU flash, 272 Cams, turbo outlet, and the intake, it made 229kw at the hubs. Pretty impressive!
Then we drained the fuel and refilled the tank with E85, and RRE started to dial up some pretty impressive and continually growing numbers. Final result was 285kw, (380hp) and we could’ve stayed with 300+ but kept it down to keep it under control, with the older clutch and all best work within a cautious range for now.
We are helping out the Australian team from Meade Sports at Pikes Peak this year. Jeff Denmeade is driving, if his name is familiar to you, he has one of the first EVO Coupes down in Australia and has been rallying all over the world for quite some time. He contacted us for dyno tuning on US spec E-85 and we went from there. Great guys to hang out with (even though they talk funny ;-) )
I love Pikes Peak and everything about it. The first time I went I was helping out Rod Millen’s team when he ran the 3 rotor tube frame RX-7. RRE ran customer cars in 94, 95 and 96. In ’95 we beat Rhys’s new Supra with his old Celica All-Trac. In ’96 we beat Rhys’s Supra with a FWD Eclipse GS-T. In 2004 we won the Rally class with Stephan Verdier’s WRX.
I’ll be posting pics and notes from their blog here from now till the race on Sunday the 27th.
The car is fairly stock. They are running in the AWD Time Attack class. It is a US spec 2003 EVO 8. They have a 10.5 hotside, HKS 272 cams, cam gears and a LICP. For the E-85 tune they added 1000cc injectors.
We arrive in LA at 6;15 in the morning on the 14th of June, which is the same time and date we left Sydney. Cool huh! We clear US Border & Immigration and grab the rental car (after what seemed like a very long ride to the rental company we used), then we rounded up the paperwork for the evo and head out to Long Beach to US Customs and Importations, once we found their office we walked in and were met by a young Customs Agent, and proceeded to do the evo clearance. Handing over tons of paperwork: title, rego papers, export docs, etc etc, we take a seat as they start the process of clearing it for us. After a short while we realise what we need is a big shot of red bull and some food, so I go in search and find some fried rice from down the road, bring it back and we shove some carbs down our throats, and suck on some Red Bull caffeine.
After a short while we are waved to the counter, we go there and we hand over the last bit of paperwork, and are met by an older well dressed gentlemen behind the counter who says “so about this car, it’s a rally car?”, “yes sir!” I reply, his immediate response was ” you have a log book?”, our answer, “yes sir, two of them!” and hand them over with our Cams and AASA licenses. He looks at us and says, thank heavens someone does it right, and proceeds to tell us horror stories about people trying to import cars, ie; rally cars, and they have no Logbooks, or even race licenses, etc, he then spends the next 1/2 hour thanking us and congratulating us on being legit racers, and welcomes us as the car is quickly cleared, hand shakes and huge thanks on their behalf for making their job easy and uncomplicated. He then brings out his photo album of the cars he used to rally in the 70’s, and it was a old Mitsubishi. This older gent also turned out to had been a master artiste and painted cars for a living on canvass etc, he showed us some of his work and we are in awe of his talents.
With clearance in hand, we then head off to Collect the evo from the dock yards, and despite a bit of running around (to be expected) we are taken to it sitting out on the docks, but then we are slightly delayed when we realise they have locked the keys in the car out in the middle of the dockyard and we wait for the mechanic to show with the slim jim and a few other items to unlock the car. Once these guys find out we are headed to Pikes Peak they can’t seem to help us enough, wishing us well with huge smiles. We pull the evo pull it out of the docks, and drive it up to Santa Fe Springs to the great guys at Road race Engineering.
Now, we are fortunate to have been in racing and rallying for going on 30 years now, we’ve raced on three continents and we’ve met and gotten to know many a great person, as time goes by you realise we are all connected by the passion of motorsports and hard facts. Whether we are dealing with the great guys at MEEK automotive, or Road Race Engineering. And between these two groups, there is nothing that is not achievable, or doable with evos.
We deliver the evo up to Mike Welch at Road Race Engineering and he is pure pro. He builds some of the fastest race evos in the US, and tunes 2-3 a week to E85. His yard is full of evos with stories. Such is Mike’s work schedule he works on and tunes evos well into the early morning hours most of the week, a car showing up for a tune at 11pm at night is an often occurrence. ‘Dedicated’ comes to mind. As MEEK and RRE work closer to bring the best of development to Australian evos, your going to see some great stuff in Australian Motorsports with evos. The top few images are from RRE’s activities with evos.
After dropping the evo at RRE, we set off for what had to be one of life simplest nicest pleasures, a HOT SHOWER, which after 45 hours in the same clothes, and a 15 hour flight, and running around half of California, was simply the best thing in the world at that point. Then it was off to the second best thing, a nice juicy incredibly well cooked steak and a bottle of Red Wine, which we got at the Outback Steakhouse near our hotel, and oh man it was juicy and nice.
Visit RRE at www.roadraceengineering.com and check out their site.
Tomorrow we share the latest updates with the tune from RRE. – JD