The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the last frontiers of motorsport, bringing out a great mix of modified street cars and wild purpose-built racers for what is known as the “Race to the Clouds.”
Among those competitors this year will be a pair of Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution III electric racers. One of these amped-up versions of Mitsubishi’s humble i-MiEV electric microcar finished second in the Pikes Peak electric division last year, and the company is obviously hoping to take the top spot in 2014.
The Evolution III seems like the perfect car for the job.
It may look like the unfortunate offspring of a stock i-MiEV and a Formula 1 car, but it features four electric motors that produce a combined 603 horsepower (up from last year’s 536 hp) and a bespoke tube-frame chassis.
In fact, other than its name and the basic design of its motors, the racer has virtually nothing in common with its road going counterpart. Unlike the rear-wheel drive i-MiEV, the Evolution III has all-wheel drive, with a Super All-Wheel Control system derived from Mitsubishi’s experience building the Lancer Evolution.
Mitsubishi’s 2013 team of Hiroshi Masuoka and Greg Tracy will return for 2014. Masuoka is a two-twin Dakar Rally winner, and took the second-place spot in the EV Division last year. Tracy is a six-time Pikes Peak motorcycle champion, and came in third place in the EV division last year.
Both cars and drivers will need to be at their best. The Pikes Peak course features 156 turns over 12.42 miles, and rises over 4,000 feet. The finish line is at 14,110 feet – nearly 3 miles above sea level.
First run in 1916, Pikes Peak is actually the second-oldest motorsport event currently run in the United States, after the Indianapolis 500.