An Adventure To The Top
Zenkai Motorsports Attempts To Set Pikes Peak Class Record
Two-time class winner Stephan Verdier was selected to pilot the Subaru of Las Vegas, powered by Crawford Performance and protected by Motul Zenkai Motorsports Race Car during the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This race is not just a battle against the clock and other competitors, breathing itself becomes a struggle as the oxygen level is dramatically reduced at the 14,110 foot summit. For 12.42 miles, nearly 200 entrants would negotiate the 156 turn course, trying to reach the summit fastest.
Setting out from their home base at Subaru of Las Vegas in Southern Nevada before the sun rise on Saturday, Zenkai Motorsports headed North East toward Colorado Springs, Colorado. Securely tied to the trailer was their Crawford Performance powered 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Freshly prepped with a new roll cage, custom front splitter and running strong with a new high altitude tune and high quality Motul 300V protecting the engine internals.
With each passing car and fuel stop, curious people took photos and asked questions about the car, the team’s upcoming hill climb attempt and express their appreciation of such a unique creation. Many transit photos were shot from passersby, reiterating the one of a kind nature of the Zenkai Motorsports race vehicle.
Sunday morning following the team’s arrival in Colorado Springs was one of the least hectic days of the week. Team members unloaded, then cataloged equipment, supplies and spare parts to be used throughout the week. Following the long drive, the team was ready to eat and get some rest, knowing the upcoming week will leave little time for either activity. This afternoon was also driver Stephan Verdier’s first look at the Subaru he would be taking up Pikes Peak in true Zenkai fashion.
Awaking Tuesday morning refreshed and ready to go, Zenkai Motorsports took their Crawford Performance powered Motul protected Subaru to the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the event’s Technical Inspection. This was the first time other teams had a chance to see the magnificent automobile ZMRT brought to the competition. It was also the first time ZMRT members were able to check out the other cars in their class.
Also in line was course record holder Nobihiro “Monster” Tajima, Mr. Tajima took time to sign autographs for team members and pose for photos with his car, the Zenkai Motorsports car and driver Stephan Verdier.
With no issues requiring repair or adjustment brought up by the Technical Inspectors, Zenkai Motorsports was ready to load up the car, and take it back to their hotel to work on the tires. To get a better idea about the course for 2011, Mr. Verdier drove members of the team up Pikes Peak to check out track conditions and give first timers an idea of the extreme nature of this event. Discussions were held regarding the tread pattern that should be cut into each of the tires as well. With the gravel section shrinking each of the last few years, it is important to make sure the tires will provide quality traction through those unpaved miles.
Wednesday was the first of many long days started with extremely early starts. Awaking at 2am, the team headed toward Pikes Peak for the first day of practice. Starting on the middle section, from Cove Creek to 16 Mile, Stephan Verdier made it to the section checkered flag with concerns regarding the vehicle’s suspension setup. Once driver and car made it back down to the pit area, some sway bar and coilover adjustments were made, each successive run up the section lead to faster and faster times.
After practice concluded, the team loaded up and headed back to the team pit outside of their
hotel to make further adjustments on the vehicle’s set up. 2 am came quickly once again on Thursday for the Zenkai Motorsports team members, driving nearly to the summit for practice on the top section. Starting at Devil’s Playground, Stephan Verdier attacked the newly paved course on his way to the summit.