2009 Suzuki Monster Sport SX4 Hill Climb Special news, pictures, and information
NOBUHIRO ‘MONSTER' TAJIMA ATTEMPTS TO TAKE TENRace-prepped Suzuki SX4 Sport Shoots to Break Ten Minute Barrier
PIKES PEAK, CO (July 17, 2009) – Nobuhiro ‘Monster' Tajima and his supporting Monster Sport cast return to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this weekend wîth but one obvious opponent: the 2007 version of Nobuhiro ‘Monster' Tajima and his record-breaking performance on the mountain they call Pikes Peak.
As the Peak's undisputed King of the Hill, Mr. Tajima – and his Suzuki – has been without peer in their most recent, record-breaking performances. With his record time of 10 minutes, 1.408 seconds posted in 2007, Tajima and his team broke a Pikes Peak mark in the record books since 1994. A Pikes Peak competitor since 1988, Monster recorded his first class in 1993, and took his first overall title in 1995 aboard a twin-engined Escudo (Vitara in the States).
With the course under construction during last year's competition, the 2008 run – and any record breaking – was rendered all but impossible. This year, behind the wheel of the Monster Sport SX4 Hillclimb Special, Tajima hopes to add his high-speed take to a vehicle already well regarded in the mountain and snowbelt states. With the production model's all-wheel drive and Euro-inspired skin, the SX4 constitutes an international assault on the highways – and Colorado-sourced byways – of North America.
Monster's Hillclimb Special – featuring a steel space frame, along wîth carbon and Kevlar composite bodywork – offers little traditional mass to hold the Special's 885 horsepower back. The Únlimited Division, however, is not without competition; in 2009 three others intend to compete, including Andreas Eriksson, Marcus Gronholm and Mark Rennison.
Source - Suzuki
Win – which is typical – or lose, ‘Monster' on the Mountain speaks to both Suzuki's long history of competition success, as well as Suzuki's early history, where the company's first victory was posted on a hillclimb near its corporate home – Mt. Fuji, Japan.
|Engine : 2.7 L.|
Power: 873 hp
Four successive victories at 2009 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb are wonAs per a rule for the event, the fastest qualifier is allowed to choose where on the race order on race day that he wishes to run. Since I was the fastest qualifier, it was my choice to make. Various factors were taken into consideration; the weather, the road surface and temperature etc. I chose for the unlimited class to run directly after the vintage cars early in the morning to avoid any surface deterioration and make the most of the cooler morning temperatures. The unlimited class was to run in reverse order wîth the cars of Mark Rennison, Andreas Eriksson and Marcus Gronholm taking to the course before me.
After blowing an engine on the first day of testing and making hurried repairs over the final two days by freighting parts from the ÚK, the Ford RS200 of Mark Rennison qualified last and was therefore the first unlimited car to take to the mountain. Although completing the course, the time achieved (12:11.561) was indicative of his lack of testing time here and his comment after reaching the summit was 'Pikes peak is a difficult race far exceeding expectations. Even though we had prepared for this event extensively, we were not able to prepare effectively for this challenge. Our lack of experience here has hampered us. This year was a year of gaining experience…we shall be back'
Next to take to the start line was the Ford Fiesta of Andreas Eriksson. Following a off road roll over on the second day of testing, his team worked day and night in order to repair his car in time for the start. Únfortunately Andreas was unable to practice on the final day due to this repair work. The final days practice being the beginning section of the course and soon after the start on race day, approximately 3km into his race run he was forced to retire again due to an off road incident, it is believed that this incident was tire related, maybe he hit something, we are not sure. This incident ended the 2009 campaign of Andreas Eriksson and his Pikes Peak challenge.
The third car to take the start in the unlimited class was the Ford Fiesta of former WRC champion Marcus Gronholm. Following the early retirement of his team mate, Marcus carried the weight of his team's hopes on his shoulders. Even though Marcus was able to complete the course entirely, his time achieved of 11:28.963 was slower than expected and in a radio interview from the summit he was heard saying that the engine overheated in the second half of the course and the power dropped. His also complained of losing brake effectiveness wîth the rear brakes literally catching fire towards the end.
Finally I was able to take to the start line. We warmed our tires to approximately 70 degrees and moved to the start line. Anticipating a start soon after, I was dismayed to be held at the start by waiting for the helicopter to return to the beginning of the course. I was told to turn off my engine by the start official. Finally the helicopter arrives and I am given the signal to start my engine. I am thinking many things; how much temperature have I lost in my tires ? How much grip will I have ? Many cars before me have had problems so far, is there a problem wîth the road surface ? The clouds have begun to roll in, will the weather be ok for my run ? An uneasiness within me starts to spread.
Having the advantage of many years experience here, my strategy was to run the whole distance of the course wîth Safety First. Believing my engineers and mechanics and knowing that they had given me the best car for a record run, I put my car into first gear and following the green flag I let the clutch go and I was off. Immediately as I entered the first corner, the grip from the rear tires felt unsatisfactory and I adjusted my machine to stop the oversteer.
I compare wîth testing time and although my car is perfect, there is little grip in the surface. The first tarmac section I drive smoothly to preserve my tires. The next gravel section from the Picnic Ground is very loose, much looser than it was during testing and the grip level is low causing my car to slide easily. I attack the course carefully because of the heavy and deep gravel, there is little grip until I reach the halfway point of Glen Cove where the surface once again becomes Tarmac. I continue carefully preserving my tires on the tarmac surface. A continuous series of hairpin corners causes me to reach as low as first gear and I must be careful because it is very easy to spin my tires and cause them to wear out prematurely.
Next is the gravel section from the 16 mile point which we tackled on the second day of testing. Now, the surface is different to before, I can feel a lack of grip and I slide too much. The gravel is deep here now and unlike I have tested. As I reach the finish point I see a Japanese flag and take encouragement from the fans. My 2009 Pikes Peak Challenge has finished now as I pass the finish line and head to the paddock area where many fans and media personnel are awaiting me. I have an idea that my time achieved was not good enough to break the record and as I get out of my car to the many awaiting microphones and TV cameras I am told that my time achieved was 10:15.368 and asked for comments.
My reaction was that considering the road surface this year, the time achieved was not so bad. A record run was impossible in the circumstances. My team and my car were perfect all week and I had no other problems at all. Even though on my final run, I struggled wîth grip, my Falken tires performed extremely well and I was very happy to have had their support.
Soon after I finished my run, it rained quite heavily for a short period despite this being the middle of summer ! This is Pikes Peak and anything can happen. The course had to be temporarily stopped for safety reasons but continued soon after in once again changed conditions.
21 years have passed since I competed in my first Pikes Peak International Hillclimb and I was happy to have been able to use those many years of experience in this years event. My dream of breaking the 10 minute barrier has not disappeared and should I decide to return next year for the challenge it will be my 5th consecutive challenge for the record.
Even though my fellow unlimited competitors; Mark, Andreas and Marcus were unable to have a trouble free run this year, I sincerely appreciated them making the effort to come to Pikes Peak and I hope that they are able to return in the future. The other Japanese entries of Aikawa san and Hanawa san were also appreciated and helped make the 2009 event a truly international one.
I am pleased to retain the title of 'King of the Mountain' for 2009 and would like to return in 2010. I wish to thank all of my sponsors that have helped me this year and hope that they wish to return wîth me in 2010.Source - Suzuki
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