Elevated Effort – Rhys Millen Racing's Pike's Peak World Record Back Story
By Lawson Mollica
A behind the scenes account leading up to Rhys Millen Racing’s new Pikes Peak overall world record as told to MotoIQ by Mitch Pederson, owner of MP Tuning and RMR Tuning/Race Support Engineer.
On the surface it can seem that championship efforts and record breaking milestones in racing happen with flawless precision. Many times we as spectators only see the run itself and have little access to what goes on the pits or the garage prior to the big show. We know that many of you reading this race competitively, and therefore struggle with the funds and resources to do everything you would like to do to prepare your car precisely the way you want. So when you see a record setting effort from a factory backed team it can sometimes be easy to discount it as a record ‘bought’ and not earned. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
Take Rhys Millen’s World record setting time at the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb a few weeks ago. While the team receives support from Hyundai, the Genesis is by no means purpose built for the hill. It started life as a production car four years ago, was converted into a drift car and it ran the Peak in basically the same trim with a few modifications. And unlike some of the teams that competed in the Open and Unlimited classes at PPHIC 2012, it runs performance electronics and hard parts that are not only attainable but affordable to the weekend racer. Its engine is comprised of tried and true components; JE pistons, Ferrea valves, Garrett turbo, HKS wastegate, blow off valve and intercooler, K&N filter, RC Injectors and a C&R radiator. The trans is a Hollinger unit, the clutch is from Exedy and the suspension is from Cusco. The electronics, like the hardware, are proven but not unattainable; comprising of an Aim dashboard and AEM Series 2 EMS for engine control.
So, how does one of the most versatile drivers around capture the overall World record at Pikes Peak in a car that can be built, albeit with patience and a little time, by most enthusiasts? It starts with skill and ends with a team effort. We spoke with Mitch Pederson of MP Tuning, the Tuning & Race Support engineer for the RMR Pikes Peak effort. He provides a fascinating account of the time leading up to the record setting climb. The text below is his story.
What almost no one knows, including Rhys at the time, is that the Genesis had a very minor issue when it set the new record. It started a couple weeks before the car went to Colorado. The guys at RMR called and said the car was running a little different at idle—It would rev up real nice but would surge at idle. I came out to their shop, plugged my laptop into the AEM EMS and found that the engine was running about 10%-15% leaner at idle than normal. Rev it up and the air/fuel ratio for both engine banks looked normal, but it was definitely lean at idle. The engine runs so consistently that you can see in any change of the AFR readings coming off the AEM UEGOs if something is wrong. It runs within a couple tenths of AFR most the time so it being off means that something mechanical has changed. This told me that there was probably a small leak in the intake manifold somewhere or a fuel pressure issue…something like that.
We spent a couple hours spraying down the intake manifold, checking vacuum lines for leaks – just trying to figure out what had changed. We didn’t find anything conclusive and since it was only acting funny at idle and it ran fine when you drove it under full throttle, we figured it was a minor issue and didn't investigate further. I added fuel at idle to bring the air/fuel ratio back where it should be and made a note to keep an eye on it. We finally figured out what it was on race day, but I’ll get back to that later.
|Mitch Pederson tuning the AEM EMS on Rhys’s record setting Hyundai Genesis. Didn’t someone say the coldest winter they ever spent was the summer they spent on Pikes Peak? No wait, that was San Francisco…anyway.|