Brazilian motorsports had never seen anything like it: drifting and hill climb master Rhys Millen set an unprecedented record on November 13 on the Rio do Rastro mountain road in the state of Santa Catarina.
The 38-year-old driver brought his Hyundai Genesis boasting 750 horspower – that’s about as much as a Red Bull Racing RB6 Formula 1 car – to Brazil for the first time. The car is the same that Rhys used last year to post a class record at Pikes Peak, the annual Colorado event regarded as the world’s most famous hill climb competition.
All in all, Millen was in action for three days at the 9.4-kilometer Rio do Rastro range. On the first, the Kiwi split the road in four sectors and focused on his other expertise: drifting. The 2008 Red Bull World Drifting Championship titlist used the sliding sessions to memorize Rio do Rastro’s 156 corners.
“By an absolute coincidence, Pikes Peak is also comprised of 156 corners, but over a 20-kilometer stretch. So Rio do Rastro is about twice as twisty as Pikes,” pondered Millen. “It makes for a very hard, but very enjoyable challenge.”
The second day was supposed to be the time attack day, but it seemed like all the white smoke raised by the Genesis’ tires on Millen’s drifts decided to stick around the mountain: a fog of Biblical thickness meant a wet, low-visibility road for the entire day. Still, Rhys had a crack at it and clocked a respectable 8:33.867.
Saturday morning was way sunnier, however, and Millen could finally stretch the Genesis’ legs. Two dry attempts produced a final record of 7:17.898, with a top speed exceeding 220kph (over 136 mph) on the tight, narrow road.
“I really do hope that my record becomes the cornerstone for a new hill climb event – a ‘Brazilian Pikes Peak,’ if you will,” added Rhys. “Brazilians have something very precious on their hands with this road. I’ve always loved Pikes Peak, but I think now I have a new favorite event…”