AMS Performance Hill Climb EVO 2010 Pikes Peak International Hill   Climb

We had a relatively fun and successful time at Monarch. Relatively meaning it was not racing evil reincarnated as much of our season has been. We broke the record for the Rally AWD class (whoohoo! we were hauling), but we also had some bad luck and ended up making a 6 hour round trip to Denver and back to Monarch to retrieve some parts.

The hillclimb in Monarch is pretty bad a**. It’s one of the roads that remind you exactly why you love to hillclimb. The road is just east of the Monarch Ski Resort on Highway 50. We haven’t been there in 2 years, we’ve only been there once and it was in the GTX. While not particularly technical, nor are the drop offs as crazy as most we deal with, the course is unique and challenging in its own right – completely lined with trees and steep as sh*t. Skill and patience are imperative to be successful here. There are lots of hairpins and setting up properly to plow out of them is crucial because if you don’t get your set up right, you have to recover in the midst of 8-10% grade … lots of time to be lost on this course.

We obviously had the clutch replaced since Pikes Peak, but we’re still running on the stock motor. A bitter pill to swallow since we were at a very steep hillclimb and man would that extra power have come in handy, but c’ est la vie. We skipped the first run on practice day. The road was wicked silty; a very, very fine powder like coating covered the surface of the course. We thought we’d let the road get “cleaned up” a bit by our fellow racers run 1. Plus, Dave was headed straight to Cali after the race to lend our Evo to Andrew Comrie-Picard as a back-up for X-Games competition. We were trying to keep her fairly clean.

Our first run was abysmal. Handling was dreadful. We came back to the pits and jacked the back end up. The passenger side rear tire could be shifted about ½ inch in all directions – clearly the problem. We got it tightened up and headed back up for our second run. The Evo was back to her aggressive self, we had a great run and broke the Rally AWD record on just our second time up the course with a 2:07.57, beating the old record by 4 seconds. That time was enough to take Overall Fast Qualifier of the day as well. On our third run, we took a short but tight right-hander a little too tight and banged up that same passenger rear wheel that had given us trouble earlier in the morning. Though we sped out of the corner pretty good we quickly realized something was wrong and pulled off. Got the car back down to the pits and back up on the jack to discover shock oil splattering the wheel well. Dave took the wheel off and confirmed we busted an Ohlins and also the upper control arm. Since we’re becoming quite accustomed to torture this season, we didn’t spend much time contemplating the drive back to Denver for our stock suspension before we were in the car heading for home. It was about a 6 hour round trip with a very brief stop at the house to grab the parts.

We arrived back at Monarch too late to start work on the car – we were exhausted. We got up early Sunday morning and started plugging away. Parts replacement went fairly smoothly and we made it on time for our first run, albeit with OEM rear suspension on the car. We got a 2:09 on the first run. We were ok with that … getting into the groove with the new parts and making sure everything was kosher before we pushed hard. We were well positioned to win it having set the fastest time the day before. I need to preface telling you about the second run with a reminder of what happened at Pikes Peak. The clutch went out on us so we were forced to RPM match shift between 2nd and 3rd for about half the run (roughly 6 miles). This inevitably put wear and tear on the syncros in the gear box, but the transmission had been fine up until … our second run at Monarch. Coming out of a hairpin Dave went to put it in second and nuthin’ – he was locked out. Back into first gear, and then into second and we were ok again. But believe me you – races are absolutely won and lost by the few seconds something like that costs you and that’s exactly what happened. We got to the top with a 2:10. Not a bad time – but we were beat by a 2:05 and of course disappointed we didn’t better our qualifying time of a 2:07. We came in third overall. The only folks to beat us were and open wheeler and a champ car, so we continue to be pleased with the fact we can hang with those guys at all considering the power to weight ratio. Plus, happy to be racing period since we had the shock / control arm issue the day before.

Thanks goes to Allison for the writeup, and thank you for reading! Now on to the video:

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