File this one in the saving the best for last of the 2015 PPIHC (Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb) announcements. Perennially underrated IndyCar ace Justin Wilson is making his first trip to the mountain to drive Wirth Research and HPD’s abandoned LMP2 project, the ferocious looking ARX-04b.
After problematic development and winter testing, Extreme Speed Motorsports raced the ARX-04b in the TUSC season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona only for ESM to replace it with it’s predecessor and then a Ligier JS P2 for the remaining Tudor and WEC races this year.
Honda has a great history at the mountain. On my pilgrimage there last year I saw HPD campaign a lowly Honda Fit, an awesome updated Acura NSX and a LMP2-esque open cockpit prototype with Romain Dumas at the wheel. With the ARX-04b sitting around gathering dust, some genius at HPD convinced the powers at be to take the car to Pike’s Peak and thus make history by bringing the first full carbon monocoque vehicle to take on the mountain.
And it gets even better as Art St. Cyr, HPD President explains,
This is an exploratory effort, to learn as much as we can in advance of a possible future assault on the outright record.
Yes please. Though setting a new record time has lost a shade of its luster since the entire route up the mountain was fully paved in 2012, it is still a huge coup for any automaker to claim it. The mark currently stands at a ludicrous 8:13.878 set by Sebastien Loeb in 2013 at the wheel of a mad Peugeot.
Usually the top cars at Pike’s Peak more closely resemble a WRC machine on steroids than a full on endurance prototype, but Justin Wilson at the wheel of a modified LMP2 machine will only make the 93rd running of the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb even better.
Image: Honda Racing/HPD