The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the type of race you would expect to favor small, light, turbocharged rally rockets. It’s a 12.42 mile, 156-turn time attack from 9390 feet to 14,110 feet. It really isn’t the type of course you’d expect a 620-hp rear-engine, rear-wheel drive Porsche 911 GT2 RS to show up at. Porsche aims to change that image this year when the 911 GT2 RS makes its hill climb debut at this year’s 89th annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb. To commemorate the GT2 RS’ hill climb debut, Porsche will not only be racing in this year’s event, but it’ll also be making an 1100 mile road trip from California to Colorado for the event.
Zwart, a commercial film director by day and hill climb champion by night will be competing in the 2WD Time Attack class in the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Last year Zwart destroyed the previous class record in a modified 911 GT3 Cup, climbing up the 12.42 mile course in 11:31.095—more than 30 seconds faster than the previous record.
To mark the 911 GT2 RS’ Pikes Peak debut, Porsche has also announced that Zwart will be driving the same 911 he’s going to be racing at Pikes Peak from Porsche Motorsports North America headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. to the Colorado Springs, Colo. course. The 1100 mile road trip is part of Porsche’s “Porsche Everyday” campaign, which highlights Porsche’s practicality for everyday driving, instead of being just weekend toys. “We wanted to show the sports car enthusiasts that the Porsche 911 continues to be a car that meets multiple transportation needs, something its owners have known for years,” said Zwart. “You do not have to hit the top speed of 205 mph to enjoy this car on the road, yet we hope to use the 600-plus horsepower to get us up Pikes Peak fast enough to win the class and break our own record,” continued Zwart.
This isn’t the first time that Porsche has driven a car to a racing event and back. Last year Roland Asch, Patrick Simon, Horst von Saurma and Chris Harris drove a 911 GT3 RS from the factory race shop to the Nürburgring, about 200 miles away. That same 911 GT3 RS then competed in the 24 Hours Nürburgring, where the car finished 13th overall and then turned around for the road trip back to the factory shop.
Although the 156-turn, high-altitude Pikes Peak is now paved up until the last two miles, favoring a two-wheel drive turbocharged car like the 911 GT2 RS, Zwart still expects some difficulty, partially due to the 911 GT2 being legal for road use,” Although I have gained more than 150 horsepower from last year’s car, I have also gained a lot of chassis weight—the difference between a street car and a race car.” Zwart also admitted being somewhat unfamiliar with the car, something that should be straightened out with his 1100 mile road trip, “I made good use of the sequential transmission last year in the race car, and now we have a six-speed manual gearbox to operate through the Pike Peaks’ 156 turns.”
Also going against Zwart will be the fact that for veterans like himself, the course changes every year. For the past eleven years, the historic 12-and-a-half mile Pikes Peak road has slowly been paved, due to a lawsuit. This year, only two miles of gravel remains, meaning this year’s 89th annual race will be the last with gravel. By the 2012 Pikes Peak Race to the Clouds, the whole course should be completely paved.
Practice for the 89th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb begins Wednesday, June 22. The race will start in the morning on Sunday, June 26.