Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill ClimbEnlarge Photo
News at the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was dominated by nine-times World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb's domination in the Peugeot 208 T16, setting a stunning time of 8:13.878 up the fully-paved mountain course.
But further down the field, a host of electric entrants were equally impressive, the fastest setting a time that would have almost taken overall first position in last year's race.
It's a mark of how quickly the electric challengers are improving.
Mitsubishi made more waves this year, its new MiEV Evolution II replacing last year's entrant loosely based on the i-MiEV production car.
The new Evo II looked even faster than last year and the team suffered fewer setbacks. Drivers Greg Tracy and Hiroshi Matsuoka needed to change to grooved tires just before the start, as rain swept across the 'Peak--but still achieved times quick enough to take second and third place in class.
Besting the two Mitsubishi entrants was the first-in-class "Monster" Tajima, in his Monster Sport E-Runner. With a final time of 9:46.530, Monster was only a few seconds off last year's overall record, and took fifth place overall in this year's event.
So an admirable effort from the electric cars, but no overall victory? Well, yes and no--while the four-wheeled entrants battled rain to take top places but ultimately shy of Loeb's stunning time, it was a different story on two wheels.
In the motorcycle class, Carlin Dunne achieved an overall first place on his Lightning electric motorcycle--edging out a combustion-powered Ducati. It wasn't an overall fastest time for the bike, Dunne's near ten-minutes-dead time around seven seconds adrift of his Ducati-powered effort from last year--but still a brilliant victory.
The focus now turns to next year's event. Loeb is now the man to beat--but can an electric vehicle claim top spot overall in 2014?