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Robin Shute on winning Pikes Peak | Time for Tea

The first British entrant to top the timesheets at Colorado's legendary hillclimb reveals just how he did it

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

At the end of June, Robin Shute became the first Briton to win the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, and now a new short film has been put out to document the immense challenge that great feat provided. You’ll likely have a good idea of the extent of the task, but for the benefit of everyone, former British GT racer Shute’s explanation summarises it nicely: “No rules, racing to the top of a 14,000-foot mountain.” Such engineering freedom was never going to lend itself to an easy event.

What makes Shute’s story all the more remarkable is the fact his team, Los Angeles-based Sendy Club, is made up of a group of friends and uses its own, privately run Wolf GB08 track car, albeit with significant modifications. The Italian-made carbon fibre chassis was paired with an HPD Honda Racing engine with a bigger turbo, flat underfloor and enormous rear wing, helping it to provide massive performance in the thin air of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range.

To achieve his 9 minute 12.476 second winning time, Shute had to first climb the course’s fast-flowing opening section, then wrestle through its hairpins before reaching the often-treacherous final part. Here, low pressure, unpredictable crosswinds and freezing temperatures are always present to play havoc with the performance of competing machines, particularly those with high boost and high downforce. Shute really had to keep his nerve to do what he did, beating second-placed Raphael Astier and his modified Porsche 911 GT3 Cup by 11.3 seconds. The all-time record set in 2018 by VW’s factory-run ID R remains at 7 minutes 57.1 seconds.

We’ll leave Shute to explain in more detail exactly how he and team Sendy Club were able to do what they did with such a comparably small operation and budget. We suspect you’ll agree that the tension of this Honda video feels totally appropriate for such a dangerous undertaking. It’s been four months since Shute did it, but we reckon the glory of taking the top step at Pikes Peak is far from wearing off just yet.

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