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Both Ford and Suzuki had high hopes heading into this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, but both were disappointed as neither automaker managed to run the 156 turn course in under 10 minutes.
Suzuki pilot Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima still managed to run the fasted time of the day, however, at 10 minutes, 15 seconds in his 885hp Monster Sport SX4 Hillclimb Special. While Tajima didn’t beat his time last year of 10 minutes and 1 second, he is still the Pikes Peak world record holder and reigning King of the Hill.
Ford’s efforts with two 800hp Fiestas, piloted by two of the world’s best rally drivers, came up significantly short of the mark as Marcus Gronholm managed only an 11:29 while Andreas Eriksson crashed his car during practice and again during the timed run.
GALLERY: Pikes Peak Ford Fiesta
GALLERY: Monster Sport SX4 Hillclimb Special
Rally legend Marcus Grönholm will attempt to set record with sub 10 minute pass
In an attempt to drum-up interest in the launch of the Fiesta in North America, Ford is putting on a serious publicity stunt by running two 800 horsepower versions of the economy car in the legendary Pikes Peak race.
Ford is eager to appeal not just to econonomically-minded individuals with the Fiesta sub-compact, but also to enthusiasts as it attempts to set a Pike Peak record with a sub-10 minute run up the mountain.
To do this not only will Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution race team owner Andreas Eriksson be piloting one of the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Fiesta racers, but so will rally legend Marcus Grönholm. In World Rally Championship competition Grönholm has won 30 races and clinched the championship twice.
Both Eriksson and Grönholm will certainly need all 800 horses when they take on the 12.4-mile, 156-turn dirt and tarmac climb on July 19th.
“We’re pleased to have a top independent team like Olsbergs MSE coming to the U.S. with their Fiesta Rallycross cars to take on the challenge of Pike’s Peak,” said Brian Wolfe, director, Ford North America Motorsports. “This will be a great chance for enthusiasts here to see in this unique setting what a lot of the rest of the world is already talking about – that the Fiesta is a great road car and a great race car.”
Ford Motor Company’s director of Global Motorsport Business Development, Jost Capito, said: “The Pike’s Peak event is another step forward for the new Ford Fiesta as a core vehicle in Ford’s future global motorsport aspirations. We’re looking forward to seeing Andreas and Marcus in action on this unique event.”
GALLERY: Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution Ford Fiesta Rallycross
Official release after the jump: