Motorsport: Loeb destroys Pikes Peak record

Sebastien Loeb has crushed the record at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, blowing away Kiwi Rhys Millen's benchmark.

Loeb's time, set in a savage Peugeot 208 T16 purpose-built hillclimb machine was a staggering 8.13:878 - smashing Millen's 9.46:164, set last year.

To be fair, Millen's time was set in his Hyundai Genesis drift car without factory support, while nine-time World Rally champion Loeb's machine is an unbelievably quick 650kW monster that was built by the French manufacturer's best race engineers for one reason - take the record, and do it well.

"For me, this was the race of the year," said the Frenchman after climbing the 20km road in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, and tackling its 156 corners at an average speed of 145km/h.

"At the beginning of my run there was a bit of pressure for sure because I knew there was so much work and investment from Peugeot and all the partners.

Now, after all the practice, it was just down to me and I had to perform."

Peugeot Sport's engineers and even its computer predicted a slower theoretical top speed for the run - estimated a best possible run a massive two seconds slower.

"I'm really happy as that was a very good run in the end," said Loeb. "I really didn't expect anything better than 8m15s, so to do 8m13s was fantastic. Before the start I didn't really know if I should push absolutely to the maximum or if I should just push to a comfortable pace, in order to make sure of the victory. In the end, I decided to push to the limit."

He was the first to run in the hard-fought Unlimited class - which saw Rhys Millen's father Rod and Suzuki Motorsport's Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima swap records for over a decade.

Rhys Millen was second in the class in his all-new Hyundai RMR PM580-T, 49 seconds behind Loeb with a time of 9m02.192s.

"I think it's fair to say that we were racing for second place today," said Millen. "Myself and Romain Dumas had been really close throughout practice, but then I heard that his engine had unfortunately broken at the start. I knew I wasn't going to beat Sebastien's time, so I just decided to take no risks. You have to hand it to Loeb and Peugeot Sport: they were unbeatable. That time they set was simply incredible. When will it be beaten? It might never be..."

Watch this space for video of the record-breaking run.

Ari Vatanen also claimed the record for Peugeot, in 1988, driving a Peugeot 405 T16 and setting a 10:47.220 mark. His effort can be seen in the stunning film Climb Dance (see below).

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