Rhys Millen returns to Pikes Peak driving a Latvian electric car

Rhys Millen sat out last year's race Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, spending his involuntary vacation in South Africa drifting a Dodge Challenger Hellcat for a recent Pennzoil commercial and our copious enjoyment. He'll be back this year for the 93rd running of the race to the clouds, minus an internal combustion engine: Millen's driving a one-megawatt electric car called the eO PP03 developed in Latvia.

Drive eO is the company behind the car, and this will be its third appearance in the electric class at Pikes Peak. The vehicle uses a 50-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to power six electric motors - yes, six - good for a peak 1,367 horsepower. The controllers have been developed in-house, and the eO PP03 uses a novel motor layout to keep the car lighter than other electric entrants.

The team is trying to be the first overall winner with an electric car, and Millen says that in ideal conditions he thinks he can break the nine-minute mark. That would have been good enough for the overall victory last year, when Romain Dumas in the Unlimited Class took the trophy with a time of 9:05.801. However, the second- and third-best overall times didn't come in Unlimited, they came from Electric Class drivers Greg Tracy and Hiroshi Masuoka who were both in the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III.

For the last two years, drivers have been saying they expect electric cars will soon run the table - it's hard to beat constant power all the way up the mountain. Assuming no Frenchmen show up, that is. A press release below has more information.

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Rhys Millen to pilot the eO PP03 one megawatt electric race car in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Former winner and record holder Rhys Millen will participate in the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the one megawatt electric race car developed by Drive eO. The 42-year-old driver will challenge all competitors in the 'Race to the Clouds' aiming to become the first overall winner with an electric vehicle. "In ideal conditions we must be capable of setting a race time below nine minutes," Millen predicts.

The eO PP03 produces 1020 kW (1367 hp) peak power thanks to a 50 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and six YASA-400 electric motors with in-house developed eO controllers. The all-electric vehicle is currently being assembled by Drive eO, which is a Latvian engineering company specialised in the design and manufacture of electric and hybrid electric prototype vehicles. Previously, they were the first to complete the demanding Dakar Rally with a hybrid electric vehicle and they have participated with all-electric race cars in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb twice.

With over 20 years of racing experience, Rhys Millen has carved out a solid career and reputation, becoming one of the most sought after performance drivers in the US automotive scene. Millen, born in New Zealand, is the son of famed rally and off-road racer Rod Millen. Rhys joined his father Rod in the USA as a teenager and soon established himself as an entrepreneur and race car driver. He developed his advanced car control skills in various competitions like rally, drift series and participating in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, setting multiple records, class wins and taking the overall victory in 2012. He previously represented factory teams such as Mitsubishi, GM and Hyundai. Besides racing, Millen was also appointed as lead stunt driver for film productions like Dukes of Hazzard and multiple Fast & Furious titles.

Kristaps Dambis, project director at Drive eO, said: "We are very proud to announce Rhys as our driver. It was great to see him very excited straight away and his involvement in the project has already benefited us massively. He's brought his experience of 4WD race car preparation and setup and also insider knowledge of Pikes Peak peculiarities. He is taking the project very seriously and is coming up with useful ideas to beat the competition this year. Overall it is certainly a great acknowledgement of our past work that Rhys puts his faith in our team to develop a race winning car!"

Rhys Millen, race driver of the eO PP03 one megawatt electric race car, said: "I'm very pleased that Drive eO offers me my first electric race car experience at this year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. When Kristaps mentioned the new vehicle design it peaked my interest to work with the team. Drive eO brings the future into the present with the most capable vehicle ever to grace Pikes Peak that has the opportunity to win overall. I have full confidence in the team that we will succeed. If the numbers that are on paper equate to real world numbers, this vehicle - in ideal conditions - should be capable of a race time below nine minutes."

The eO PP03 is currently being assembled in the workshop in Ogresgala Pagasts, near Latvia's capital city Riga, and is expected to undergo first testing in May.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest motor racing event in the United States of America. The race is run on a twenty-kilometre (12.42 mile) course with 156 turns that begins at 2,862 metre (9,390 feet) elevation and finishes at the 4,301 metre (14,100 feet) summit of the Pikes Peak mountain in Colorado Springs, USA.

About Drive eO
Drive eO provides bespoke electric and hybrid solutions for high performance low carbon vehicles – complete prototype vehicle development, electric drive train integration, high power electric motor controllers and custom lightweight battery packs. The company has produced several technology demonstrators, including the first electric drive Dakar rally car and a string of electric supercars for the Pikes Peak hill climb.

About Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC)
Founded by Spencer Penrose in 1916, the PPIHC is the second oldest motor race in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the few races in the world that encompasses nearly all forms of motorsports in a one day event. Every year vehicles ranging from motorcycles, ATVs, sidecars, Big Rigs and 1500 hp purpose built Pikes Peak racers take on America's Mountain on the last Sunday of June.

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