They came. They saw. They were conquered. That pretty much sums up a thrilling Pikes Peak International Hillclimb for 2009 as Suzuki's legendary Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima took overall victory yet again, fending off a formidable paddock of rivals, while difficult weather conditions dictated that the mythical ten-minute mark – as well as Monster's own 10:15 personal best – remained untouched.
This year the Suzuki team replaced its existing XL7-bodied challenger in with a purpose-built SX4 packing a 2.7-liter V6 with a massive 873 horsepower on tap. But among those eager to strip the Japanese champions of their domination were two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm driving a specially prepared Ford Fiesta and an 1150hp Ford RS200. Along with all the other pretenders to the crown, they were fed a heaping dose of humble pie by the Monster. Meanwhile drift champ Rhys Millen took the 2WD class victory in his Hyundai Genesis, pledging to return to the peak in the top-spec Unlimited class in an effort to reclaim the title which Monster took from his father Rod Millen, whose record stood from 1994 through 2007 when Suzuki bested the time. The books were just closed on this year's run up the mountain, but the competition's already heating up for next year.
NOBUHIRO 'MONSTER' TAJIMA ATTEMPTS TO TAKE TEN
Race-prepped Suzuki SX4 Sport Shoots to Break Ten Minute Barrier
PIKES PEAK, CO (July 17, 2009) – Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima and his supporting Monster Sport cast return to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this weekend with but one obvious opponent: the 2007 version of Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima and his record-breaking performance on the mountain they call Pikes Peak.
As the Peak's undisputed King of the Hill, Mr. Tajima – and his Suzuki – has been without peer in their most recent, record-breaking performances. With his record time of 10 minutes, 1.408 seconds posted in 2007, Tajima and his team broke a Pikes Peak mark in the record books since 1994. A Pikes Peak competitor since 1988, Monster recorded his first class in 1993, and took his first overall title in 1995 aboard a twin-engined Escudo (Vitara in the States).
With the course under construction during last year's competition, the 2008 run – and any record breaking – was rendered all but impossible. This year, behind the wheel of the Monster Sport SX4 Hillclimb Special, Tajima hopes to add his high-speed take to a vehicle already well regarded in the mountain and snowbelt states. With the production model's all-wheel drive and Euro-inspired skin, the SX4 constitutes an international assault on the highways – and Colorado-sourced byways – of North America.
Monster's Hillclimb Special – featuring a steel space frame, along with carbon and Kevlar composite bodywork – offers little traditional mass to hold the Special's 885 horsepower back. The Unlimited Division, however, is not without competition; in 2009 three others intend to compete, including Andreas Eriksson, Marcus Gronholm and Mark Rennison.
Win – which is typical – or lose, 'Monster' on the Mountain speaks to both Suzuki's long history of competition success, as well as Suzuki's early history, where the company's first victory was posted on a hillclimb near its corporate home – Mt. Fuji, Japan.
Base model: SUZUKI SX4
Frame Steel: space frame
Cowl & wing: Carbon and Kevlar composite
Engine model and Capacity: H27A, 2736cc, 2turbo
Maximum horsepower (Net): 885ps/8750r.p.m
Maximum torque (Net): 90.5kg-m/6250r.p.m
Gearbox: Sequential 6-speed
Differential: Front/Rear: Hydraulic Controlled ,Center: Mechanical multi plate
Race weight (without driver, fuel): 1120kg
Dimensions (without front and rear wing): L5300xW1960xH1500mm
Tire size: 285/60R18
Wheel size: 18 x 11J