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August 29, 2007

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Specially prepared Suzuki XL7 breaks Hill Climb overall time record at Pikes Peak

Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, driving his modified Suzuki Sport XL7 Hill Climb Special, broke the long-standing overall time record at the 85th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb near Colorado Springs, Colo., on July 21. Tajima crossed the Devil's Playground finish line posting a time of 10 minutes, 1.408 seconds, breaking the 1994 record of New Zealand’s Rod Millen by nearly three seconds.

“I’m excited about the victory and etching Suzuki’s name in the Pikes Peak record books,” said Tajima. “I look forward to challenging Pikes Peak next year with the goal of breaking the 10-minute barrier.”

Suzuki and Monster Tajima first challenged Pikes Peak in 1988. He first won the Unlimited Division in 1993 driving a Twin Engine Suzuki Cultus. Again in 1995, he drove a Twin Engine Suzuki Escudo to the overall win. Tajima was named overall winner in the 2006 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and this year, from the time the carbon fiber clad, twin-turbocharged, 1,000-horsepower XL7 racecar rolled off the trailer, he was the driver to beat.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is called the “Race to the Clouds” and its proud history goes back to 1916. The race starts at an altitude of 9,390 feet above sea level (2,862 meters), and finishes at 14,107 feet above sea level (4,300 meters). The altitude change is 4,593 feet or 1,400 meters. In just 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) the course winds through a total of 156 corners.

The race is simple; whoever finishes with the fastest time wins. The course is made up of three sections; the high-speed, paved section on the bottom, the technical section in the middle and the barren, gravel road at the top section - located above the tree line. There are no guardrails so there can be no mistakes by the drivers. Just one mistake puts drivers and vehicles off the course and down the cliff.

The combination of high altitude and low oxygen makes the course tough on both normally aspirated racecars and their normally aspirated drivers. To conquer Pikes Peak, the race vehicles need large wings, good aerodynamic balance and nearly 1,000 horsepower.

August 20, 2007

Photos: Suzuki


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