27 January 2012

Pikes Peak Colorado, 1988, Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid

The Godfather of rally drivers and the King of Pikes Peak.

Climb Dance is a famous cinéma vérité short film, produced by Peugeot and directed by Jean Louis Mourey, which features Finnish rally ace Ari Vatanen setting a record time of 10m 47s at the 1988 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado, USA.
The car he set the record in? A 600bhp 405 T16 Grand Raid, as used in the 1988 Paris-Dakar rally, but modified specifically for Pikes Peak. Based on the tried and tested 205 T16, The 'normal' T16 Grand Raid used that car's four-wheel drive and 'XU 9T' engine, taken out to 1.9 litres and 400bhp. But Peugeot also developed it further; it was slightly lower, fitted with massive wings and rear-wheel steering, with the engine pumped up to a mighty 600bhp. Ari Vatanen took a convincing victory and bettered the record set a year earlier by Walter Rohrl in an Audi Quattro Sport E2. 
Footage of the Finn's heroic effort was recorded from cameras placed inside, in front, underneath and above the car, and cut together by Mourey. In 1989, Robby Unser (son of Bobby) took the 405's second Pikes Peak win and Vatanen's record was not beaten until 1994, when New Zealander Rod Millen drove his heavily modified Toyota Celica to the overall record of 10:04.06 that still stands today.
A great quote from Ari vatenen's own website:

Peugeot wanted to do a PR-stunt in the United States and embarked on a programme of conquering the famous Pikes Peak hillclimb. The French team could have won first time out, if it hadn't been for a broken turbo hose clamp, which handed victory to Walter Röhrl's Audi.In 1988 Peugeot came back properly prepared, now with the shapelier 405 Turbo 16. Reigning World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen had rejoined Peugeot for its non-WRC programme."The event was interrupted by a hailstorm for a while. The ground was totally covered by hailstones and we had to wait for it to melt away, but it left the upper parts of the climb quite muddy.There was a certain element of psyching going on, whipped up by Juha Kankkunen's posse and trying to unsettle me - not that Juha was personally involved in it at all. At 10 kilometres Juha was a couple of tenths quicker than me, but after that, as the route emerged from the forest and climbed over the treeline there came the muddy section and that's where I managed to edge ahead by 3 or 4 seconds. I only just eclipsed Walter Röhrl's record, but that was because of the conditions.

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