The Race To The Clouds is a really explanatory identify for the Pikes Peak Worldwide Hillclimb, some of the daunting racing challenges on the planet. It’s a 20km twisty mountain street that snakes up the mountain by way of 156 corners, beginning at 1,440m of elevation, and operating all the best way to the highest at 4,320m. Though a lot of the floor has been paved, it stays an enormous problem for man and machine, primarily because of the enormous change in elevation and subsequent drop in oxygon because the altitude will increase. For this yr, the one hundred and first operating of the Pike’s Peak occasion, noticed Ford getting into with a Transit van. However not simply any van, a real Supervan!
The stipulation for the Pikes Peak Worldwide Hillclimb is kind of easy. Adjust to one of many six totally different classes’ laws, and blast your approach up the mountain in an try to set the quickest time at school, and doubtlessly total. In case you can obtain that, you’re a winner of some of the prestigious and oldest racing occasions in historical past. The race was first contested in 1916, as Spencer Penrose organised the occasion to advertise the newly constructed Pikes Peak Freeway. Though it was lengthy a purely American occasion, by the Nineteen Eighties European and Asian producers and racing drivers bought concerned. Names like Michèle Mouton, Walter Röhrl, Ari Vatanen, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima and plenty of others left an enduring impression on the mountain and racing followers.
The contestants are divided into six divisions; Limitless, Time Assault 1, Pikes Peak GT4 Trophy by Yokohama, Open Wheel, Pikes Peak Open and Exhibition. The occasion is likely one of the final to function an nearly limitless class, known as Limitless. This enables totally purpose-built vehicles to enter and take a look at their greatest to beat the course file. Romain Dumas holds the general file at 7:57.148, set within the all-electric Volkswagen I.D. R. The Pikes Peak Open class may sound comparable on paper, however this has a bit extra restrictions in what you’ll be able to run, because it needs to be (loosely) primarily based on a manufacturing automobile. The group does permit for main technical and aerodynamical upgrades although, so the machines on this class can look as wild as within the Limitless class. This class, the Pikes Peak Open, is what we’re going to take a more in-depth take a look at immediately, as Ford entered with its newest Supervan.
Ari Vatanen and his 1988 Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 Pikes Peak – Autoweek.com
Romain Dumas within the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. R – Wired.com
The Ford Supervan Idea
The clue to what a Supervan type of lies in its identify. It’s principally a Ford Transit with a monster engine, an idea that dates again to 1971 and which was primarily designed as a promotional automobile by Ford UK. What they did was take an everyday manufacturing Ford Transit, one of many best-selling vans of all time, and stick the physique on prime of the chassis and engine of a Ford GT40. This gave it about 435bhp, 4 to five occasions the facility of a inventory Transit. In case you take a look at footage of this MkI Supervan, it seems hilarious, selecting up the within entrance wheel because it dances round a nook!
Ford constructed a number of different Supervans, all primarily based on the Transit. In 1984 they constructed the Transit Supervan 2, fitted with a 3.9 litre Cosworth DFV V8 from a Ford C100 Group C prototype. With near 600 horsepower, this hit a prime velocity of 280kph, which is insane for a van! However the madness didn’t cease there, as a decade later the Supervan 3 was constructed. This time Ford shrunk the physique of a Transit all the way down to 7/8ths scale and caught within the 3.5 litre Cosworth HB V8 that produced between 630 and 700bhp and was utilized in Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/8 for the 1993 Formulation 1 season. This boosted the highest velocity to shut to 300kph. Once more, in a VAN!
In order that’s the final concept. Begin with a inventory Transit put in a massively highly effective engine and have a ton of enjoyable within the course of. In recent times, Ford has rekindled the idea of the Supervan however took it into a unique, electrified path.
The Supervan 4.2
Final yr, Ford launched a brand new Supervan on the Goodwood Pageant of Velocity. Referred to as the Ford Supervan 4.0, this was an electrified model of the newest technology of the Transit. The workforce didn’t mess about although and constructed a bespoke chassis and electrical driveline. 4 motors and a battery pack produced an astonishing 2,000bhp and 1,800Nm of torque, all hidden by a wild aero equipment with enormous wings, flaps, and cutouts to maintain the automotive steady and planted. Zero to 100kph took lower than 2 seconds, and the highest velocity is claimed to be in extra of 320kph.
For Pikes Peak, Ford’s Efficiency division determined to make use of the Supervan 4.0 because the platform for its hillclimb racer. Over a interval of six weeks, which is tremendous quick for such a construct, the workforce constructed the Supervan 4.2, an evolution of the one which blasted up the hill at Goodwood. It wanted to drop some weight, so it was determined to drop one of many electrical motors. This additionally cuts the facility from a bonkers 2,000 to a nonetheless almighty 1,427 horsepower, nevertheless it has to take care of 400 kilograms much less weight, which is a big distinction. Each side of the automotive was modified to optimize its efficiency, together with new brakes, new transmission, new suspension and new aerodynamic parts.
Obliterating the course file
Ford got down to beat the category file within the Pikes Peak Open division and aimed for a sub-9-minute time. It takes a sure character to even come near that however Ford had a crafty plan, because it enlisted Romain Dumas as the motive force of the Supervan 4.2. Romain is aware of the monitor up the mountain inside and outside, as he holds the general velocity file and has received the occasion in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. His earlier file within the Volkswagen I.D. R nonetheless stands thoughts you, however was set in a unique class.
On June twenty fifth of this yr, Ford lined up the Supervan 4.2 on the beginning line. Throughout a follow session, the automotive broke down on account of an issue with the transmission, however for the race, all the things appeared excellent. The file for the Open Class stood since 2019, at 9:24,433 seconds, so the purpose was to greatest that by at the least 24,5 seconds and potential set the quickest time total within the course of.
The Ford Supervan 4.2 ended up smashing that purpose and set a brand new class file at a staggering 8:47,682 for the total 20km run! Which means it was faster by an enormous 37 seconds! The one (slight) draw back, nevertheless, is the actual fact it was a time solely ok for second total. The 2018 Wolf TSC-FS pushed by Robin Schute within the Limitless division was even faster, at 8:40,682. Nonetheless, it’s a mighty spectacular achievement by a Ford Transit van, or somewhat Ford Transit Supervan!
Editorial Be aware: The pictures used on this article are sourced from and used with the permission of Media.Ford.com.