The RMR PM580 looks like a Le Mans Prototype car, sounds like a jet fighter that's been possessed by a demon and will run from 20-130 miles per hour in six seconds. Even sitting on jack stands, with its front and rear covers off, the PM580 looks intimidating. Walking up to the car as it rests in the shade of an outstretched RV awning, we're hit with a sense of awe and wonder. Could this be the first car to make the Pikes Peak run in less than ten minutes?
According to its driver Rhys Millen, "If the weather cooperates, I guarantee we will break the record."
A bold statement, but after getting a look at the car and chatting with Rhys, we're inclined to agree. Keep reading to find out why.
Refining a car for a demanding race requires testing and tuning, and Hyundai is lending a helping hand on that end. After all, the PM580 is powered by one of the Korean automaker's Lambda V6 engines that has been bored out to 4.1-liters. The race car retains the stock block, heads and valvetrain. The automaker has provided Rhys access to its California Proving Grounds, and so we set out to the Mojave desert for a closer look at the car and the ongoing tuning process.
Rhys and the RMR crew have been working hard on the Hyundai-powered PM580. In 2010, the car didn't live up to the expectations that many placed upon it. Transmission issues were the main cause of a disappointing showing, and those same problems were, unfortunately, popping up during the test session we attended. It's clear that the cranky cog-swapper is pushing Millen to his wits end, and he says he's ready to resort to the sequential setup that can be found in his Formula Drift Hyundai Genesis.
As long as the transmission gets sorted by race time, the rest of the upgrades to the PM580 should help the team on its goal of running up the hill in less than 10 minutes. For more consistent acceleration out of the corners, RMR has switched from a torsen-type differential to a clutch-plate diff. A Hyundai Sonata has given up its power steering unit because Rhys likes the amount of boost and precision it supplies to his hands.
In addition to the re-calibrated transmission (assuming the Weismann unit isn't replaced entirely before the race), the machine's dampers were given new spring rates and a set of softer Hankook tires have been wrapped around HRE Wheels. These rubber hoops will help take advantage of the increased amount of tarmac on the hill. Further aiding the quest for time are upgraded body bits, including a new front splitter, intercooler scoop and massive rear wing to help Millen maintain control as he navigates the twisting Colorado mountain road.
The RMR PM580 is both lightweight and powerful – a combination that, along with the four-wheel-drive setup, will propel Rhys Millen up the mountain... quickly. When the Kiwi pilot is in the car, the combined weight is around 1925 pounds, depending on what Millen had for breakfast. RMR has tuned the 4.1-liter Lambda so it pumps out 700-horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. That go-fast energy is pushed out to all four corners of the PM580, and the meaty Hankooks grab the changing terrain like a quartet of tweens running into Bieber.
Enough of our blathering on about the car, let's have Rhys break it down (we'd like to apologize for the wind noise, Mother Nature was clearly jealous of the PM580's power):
Are the changes enough to allow Millen to break the 10-minute barrier? We asked Rhys that exact question. The normally jovial Millen didn't pause to think about the question, his eyes focused, his smile faded and he simply replied, "Yes."