HILLCLIMB: Pike's Peak Rod Millen Testing Notes
Monday, June 29: Middle Mountain Test Today's run covered the middle section of the hillclimb course, which starts at 11,000 feet and finishes around 13,000 feet. The Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma ran well in the somewhat slippery ...
Monday, June 29: Middle Mountain Test Today's run covered the middle section of the hillclimb course, which starts at 11,000 feet and finishes around 13,000 feet. The Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma ran well in the somewhat slippery early-morning conditions. During the session, we were able to gather a great amount of data which will allow us to better optimize the truck's setup for race day. "It was one of the most challenging and in some ways frustrating practice sessions I have ever driven," says Millen. "However, after I completed the six runs I feel we have come out with positive results." Tuesday, June 30: Upper Mountain Test Dense thunderheads moved over Pikes Peak on Monday night, surrounding the hill in lightning and rain. Tuesday morning dawned with the upper third of the mountain wet and enveloped in thick fog. Testing in such adverse conditions would be risky at best. In consideration of the drivers' safety, the test was cancelled by the Hillclimb Association. "When you come to Pikes Peak, you have to pack for all types of weather," explained Millen. "It's a good thing that we're racing a four-wheel-drive Tacoma truck this year. We'll be prepared for whatever conditions the mountain throws at us on race day." The day will by no means be wasted. The team is taking this unscheduled break to further prepare the truck for its race debut on the 4th. The possibility exists that the upper mountain test will be rescheduled on Thursday after qualifying. Wednesday, July 1: Lower Mountain Test The team tested the Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma on the bottom third of the mountain, covering elevations from 9,390 to 10,900--the fastest 4.25 milesof the course. We were able to put in five practice runs today and by run three we had broken Rod's previous bottom practice section record by .55 of a second with a time of 3:11.67. With constant monitoring and set-up adjustments he was able to lower the record for the section by another six seconds, leaving the fastest ever time at 3:06.11. During this run he was clocked by radar doing 131mph through picnic ground, 2.35 miles into the section. "The new Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma is the best we've ever had it. The balance is really nice. I think that the Pennz Suppress that they have put down on the road as made it extremely fast, the fastest I have ever seen it, so we are very happy. I broke my old Celica record and we are very pleased about that too," reported Millen. The team feels that Rod is very confident in his new truck. "The truck is performing extremely well today but with the qualifying round and top section practice tomorrow, we will be still able to do more truck set-up and fine tuning, which will increase its performance." says Team Manager, Bill Smith. Thursday, July 2: Qualifying and Rescheduled Upper Mountain Test Qualifying times: Millen: 4:32.30 Tajima: 4:48.44 Rod qualified faster than his rival Nobuhiro Tajima, but six seconds slower than his record qualifying run set last year in the Celica. A slippery lower section prevented the Tacoma from breaking the Celica record. Rod cheerfully described the Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma as "well balanced" and "easy to drive." Weather conditions are warm, and despite continued grading of the road, which leads to a slippery, non-ideal road surface, things look excellent for race day. The upper mountain test went flawlessly; Rod's time of 3:42 on the upper mountain segment was challenged by no one. Good road conditions, along with incredible driving skill and a reliable Pennzoil/Toyota Tacoma, delivered an excellent time on this segment. Tonight, the team will inspect and adjust every aspect of the Tacoma to ensure it is ready to run on race day. Hope to see you there! Friday, July 3: Race Preparation Saturday, July 4, 1998: Race to the Clouds!
Targa Tasmania boss Mark Perry admits the tarmac rally faces an uncertain future off the back of a fourth death in two events on Wednesday.