The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also dubbed “The Race to the Clouds”, is a yearly event in which competitors battle it out to see who reaches the summit of Pikes Peak quickest. In years past, the track consisted of mixed surfaces of pavement, gravel, and dirt, however, paving the entire road was completed in late 2011. Since being fully paved, speeds have increased dramatically and overall times have plummeted. In 2011, with part of the track yet to be paved, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima broke the 10 minute barrier with a time of 9:51.258. The 2017 winning time of 9:05.672 was posted by Romain Dumas in a seriously impressive, full carbon bodied, Norma MXX RD Limited.
2015 – A Glance Back
In 2015 COBB Tuning partnered with Porsche of Colorado Springs to campaign a 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S in the Time Attack 2 class with David Donner behind the wheel. That year’s race happened to coincide with the release of the Accessport for the Porsche 991 Turbo. With the Time Attack, 2 class limited to basic power upgrades it gave us a perfect opportunity to utilize the Stage 2 calibrations that would eventually find their way onto Accessport tuned vehicles around the world.The team took First Place in 2015 and currently holds the Time Attack 2 record with a time of 10:26.896.
The team took First Place in 2015 and currently holds the Time Attack 2 record with a time of 10:26.896.
2017 – Pursuing Bigger Fish
Moving into 2017 brought about new goals. PCS Motorsports of Colorado Springs set their eyes upon the Time Attack 1 class which allowed more power and aero modifications. Moving up from Time Attack 2, which limited vehicles to a large factory configuration, this opened the flood gates for improvements to a car that started life as a 911 Turbo S.
At the end of the upgrade process the car would be wearing parts sourced from a 911 GT3, 911 GT3 Cup Car, and a 911 GT3 Cup R thus it would be dubbed a 911 Turbo S GT3R America Cup. A true one of a kind.
To maximize horsepower, the car was modified with upgraded intercoolers and turbochargers from ByDesign Auto. These parts, along with an IPD Plenum, Forge upgraded bypass valves, and a 3″ stainless steel exhaust pushed power output north of 700 whp. When climbing to over 14,000ft, every last bit of power is necessary. Air at that elevation becomes very thin, greatly reducing power output. Turbocharged vehicles do have a bit of an advantage as boost pressure can be increased to help offset the lack of oxygen.
Power is still distributed through the very capable Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) gearbox. Even though this transmission is known as one of the best available in today’s production cars, the COBB Engineering team saw areas that could be improved upon to take advantage of the added power this car is making. The upgraded turbochargers produce much more horsepower at the top of the power band than the factory units. While we could previously increase the engine’s RPM limit using the Accessport, the transmission control unit was initiating a gear change well before the engine makes peak power. Gaining access to the PDK’s control unit means we are now able to push that shift schedule out, maximizing power output. Increasing pressures on the clutch packs also minimize slip during shifts and allow power to be put down much quicker. In this particular application, that means the car is accelerating out of low-speed corners much more efficiently.
Next on the agenda was the aero package. With 700 horsepower on tap, the team sought out a solution to ensure all of that power made it to the ground. Just as it takes away from power, thin air towards the top of the mountain also reduces drag, and thus, downforce. The factory 911 Turbo front bumper was removed in favour of a 911 GT3 bumper which also received a custom splitter and end plates to help increase pressure on the front tires. The front fenders were also swapped for their GT3 Cup R counterparts which aid in pulling hot air away from the brakes and make room for a larger tire. They also look fantastic. Functional at both high and low speeds, these modifications are vital in maintaining grip for steering the car. Fitted to the back of the car is a wing straight off of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup R. This helps to improve high-speed stability and keep the rear of the car planted.
Behind a set of center locking Forgeline GE1R wheels sits an RB Performance Brake Ceramic Big Brake Kit. Dampening is controlled by a set of DSC Sports Coilovers which are sitting atop GT3 Cup Uprights.
The week prior to race day is full of early-morning practice and qualifying sessions. Before the sun rises, teams gather at one of three starting points along the race track to prepare for practice sessions. As soon as the sun rises, often before it crests the horizon, officials are sending cars up to their respective section of the mountain. Each team has the opportunity to practice the top, middle, and bottom sections before the week are over. Qualifying is held at the bottom section and determines run order for Sunday. With some unfortunate troubles with a melted vehicle speed sensor on qualifying day, the PCS Motorsports Porsche 911 Turbo S was situated in the middle of the pack which would place their run time in the early afternoon.
Come race day, the team was ready and hopeful to take the Time Attack 1 class win and re-set the standing class record. Running later in the day is always a bit nerve-wracking as the potential for weather on the mountain increases. As luck would have it, the weather held out just long enough for the majority of the racers to make their way up the mountain. With Pikes Peak “Rookie” David Donohue behind the wheel, the team came in at the second position to Rhys Millen in his 2012 Hyundai Genesis. Rhys had the advantage down low and posted a time nearly 10 seconds quicker Glen Cove. Donohue battled back nearing the summit, making up 7 seconds before reaching the finish line. With an overall time of 9:49.954 the PCS Motorsports 911 Turbo S GT3R America Cup came up just over 2 seconds shy of the class win and 3 seconds behind the Time Attack 1 class record. Overall, this year was a success. The PCS Motorsports team definitely put the rest of the competition on notice. With just under a year to prepare for the 2018 race, the crew is already excited to give it another go!