Kiwi racer wins legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb

Rhys Millen in his winning Hyundai Genesis at Pikes Peak, Colorado. Photo / Supplied
Rhys Millen in his winning Hyundai Genesis at Pikes Peak, Colorado. Photo / Supplied

New Zealander Rhys Millen has followed in his father's footsteps, winning the iconic Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado, and setting a new record in the process.

The US-based racer's stiffest competition, and dad Rod's Peak nemesis for many years, Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima suffered electric motor failure in his Suzuki EV and was left out of contention.

Millen, who didn't have factory backing to run his impressive PM580 'ultimate' class car, instead ran his Hyundai Genesis drift car, tuned for altitude and set up for the course's renowned tough corners.

Tajima broke the 10-minute barrier last year, after many attempts to upset Rod Millen's course record that stood for 13 years.

The event had been postponed from its usual July dates following the Colorado wildfires, and a number of crashes, combined with the onset of nasty weather, meant the course was shortened slightly.

There was only two hundredths of a second between Millen and second place getter Frenchman Romain Dumas.

Dumas set a 9:46:18 time, and ten race spots later Millen did it in 9:46:16.

"This is just unbelievable," Millen said. "We just competed against the best in the world and beat them."

Dumas was far from sportsmanlike after losing to the California-based Kiwi racer, drifter and Hollywood stuntman, whinging that top drivers didn't hit the mountain in succession.

"We spend all this money to come for one weekend and it's not fair," Dumas told a local newspaper, adding that he would not return after his first attempt at Pikes Peak.

"I know it's bad to speak like that of a race since I am a newcomer, but it is not fair."

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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