Pikes Peak Hill Climb 2009: The “Monster Suzuki" Conquers the Mountain

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IJuly 21, 2009

       2009 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was won for the fourth time in a row by Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, driving his Monster Sport SX4,
The victory was tempered as “Monster” left the Colorado race feeling somewhat frustrated at failing to beat the illusive ten minute barrier again.
      The win was convincing though as he clearly the class of the field in the Unlimited division, beating the second place team by 1:13 with his time of 10 minutes, 15.368 seconds. The Open Wheel class victory went to Paul Dallenbach in a Chevy, finishing with the time of 10:52.097. This year marks the fourth consecutive overall win for Tajima and his team.
       Monster’s Suzuki Hillclimb Special featured a steel space frame, along with carbon and Kevlar composite bodywork based on the Suzuki’s SX4 Crossover.
      The conditions were credited as the cause for the record not being broken this year with Tajima complaining of much loose gravel on the dirt sections. Later in the day the competitors were hit by sudden downpours with the accompanying thunder and lightning. This caused a few delays and left the tarmac sections of the mountain slippery and treacherous.
      Ford had a difficult time in Colorado with numerous problems throughout the week. The two-time World Rally Champion, Marcus Grönholm had seen just about everything in a rally course . . . until he came to Pikes Peak.  
     Grönholm drove his production based Ford Fiesta rallycross car, to second in the ‘Unlimited Class’ and fifth fastest time overall.  Grönholm also captured “Rookie of the Year” honours as he set a time of 11min 28.963sec up the 12.4-mile, 156-turn course which runs up the famous Pikes Peak Highway.
     Grönholm fought mechanical issues with the turbo charger on his 800-horsepower Fiesta rallycross car which resulted in a loss of power during the crucial final climb to the top.
     "I always wanted to compete at Pikes Peak,” said Grönholm.  "Having been here over the last week I have to admit that it is one of the most challenging events I have ever done in my career.  This is one of those events that you will want to tell people that you came and competed in.
     “I had heard about Pikes Peak and seen the famous film shot on the mountain with Ari Vatanen 20 years ago, but only when you come here do you realise how much of a challenge it is.

Photo: Suzuki
Quote: Ford