Jean-Philippe Dayraut: The Frenchman, a multiple ice racing champion, is coming to Pikes Peak with a car that is at least on paper the most closely matched to the Peugeot. Underneath his right foot he too has 900 horsepower in a Mini Countryman that weighs around 950 kilograms. Most significantly of all, he came tantalisingly close to winning last year, thanks to a time that was approximately 20 seconds faster than the eventual record, before the brakes let go with about a kilometre remaining. At Pikes Peak, this means you’re going nowhere. And this is why Dayraut is back for another go this year: to get revenge.
Rhys Millen: The first person to beat is always the man who holds the current record. And that would be Rhys Millen, who is the current king of the mountain thanks to a time of 9m46.164s. This year he has a brand new car in the Unlimited class: the snappily-named Hyundai RMR PM580-T, which puts out around 800 horsepower via a turbocharged 4.1-litre V6 engine, driving the rear wheels only. Like the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak it’s an all carbon-fibre body attached to a spaceframe chassis, which goes like the proverbial off a shovel.
Rod Millen: Pikes Peak is well-known as a family affair, and the 61 year-old – the second-most successful competitor in the history of Pikes Peak, with five overall wins – is the father of current record-holder Rhys. This year, Millen Sr joins the burgeoning electric car division. Once more Millen will compete in a Toyota, driving a specially built prototype that has shown plenty of promise in testing. Unlike the petrol cars, the performance of an electrically-powered machine doesn’t drop off with altitude: a vital attribute at 4,300 metres.
Romain Dumas: The former Le Mans winner just missed out on victory last year driving a Porsche 911 GT3R – by just two-hundredths of a second. He’s back for another assault this year, now driving a Norma prototype. First though, he’ll be doing Le Mans as a Porsche factory driver – and his plans for this year also include another attempt at the Rallye de France.
Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima: This giant of a man is basically Mr Pikes Peak. He’s won the event seven times and was the first person to break the 10-minute barrier, in 2011. This year, he too is back with an electric car – called the Monster Sport E-RUNNER – and he’s already stated that his aim is to set a time in the region of nine and a half minutes. Last year his all-new car showed the potential to do that, but unfortunately caught fire on the way up to the summit. This time, he’s packing an extinguisher.
Hiroshi Masuoka: Another rapid Japanese, who is a Mitsubishi factory driver, and one of only four drivers ever to claim back to back successes on the Dakar Rally. Masuoka will drive Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV prototype in the electric division, which is powered by four electric motors.
Simon Pagenaud: Chances are that the Indycar driver won’t be challenging his compatriot Sebastien Loeb for victory because he’s going to be driving a people carrier. Yes, that’s correct: Pagenaud will drive a Honda Odyssey (which is the size of a Renault Espace) on his Pikes Peak debut. Except this one is going to be powered by a 3.5-litre, 532 horsepower turbocharged engine. It’s precisely this sort of craziness that makes Pikes Peak great.