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Range Rover Sport sets record at Pikes Peak Hill Climb

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On: Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 1:52PM | By: Teddy Field

Range Rover Sport sets record at Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Years ago, Range Rovers were as British as bad teeth and kidney pie. Pomp & Circumstance came standard, and you could literally go anywhere you pleased. Of course, they started leaking oil on the assembly line, and they ran properly only twice a month. But for those two days, you felt like the King of the World.

Ford bought the storied off-road brand from BMW in 2000 and promptly fixed the leaks, and had an exorcism performed on the electrics. The anesthetized Range Rover could now journey down Rodeo Drive without embarrassing itself, and it could even make the return trip without the aid of a tow truck. This new-found reliability allowed Land Rover to expand the Range Rover product line, and the asphalt-themed Range Rover Sport became the preferred ride of aristocratic playboys from Miami to Milan.

Now owned by the Indian automotive conglomerate Tata, Land Rover's luxury division is promoting itself by joining in, shall we say, 'gentlemanly pursuits'. The latest was on Pikes Peak in Colorado, were a Firenze Red 2014 Range Rover Sport scampered up the side of a mountain, and earned the distinction of being the fastest production SUV to do so.

First run in 1916, 'The Race to the Clouds' is America's second oldest motorsport event, and it has played host to some of the world's best known racing drivers. From Mario Andretti to the entire Unser family, countless drivers have flogged their rides up the 12.42 mile road, in an attempt to be the fastest to ascend 4,720 feet, and reach the finish line some 14k feet above sea level. It's a gnarly course, comprising 156 razor-sharp turns, made on the very edge of a mountain. Nerves of steel and buckets of skill are required as drivers literally push their machines to the ragged edge.

The current course record stands at 9:46.1, set in 2012 by Rhys Millen, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Hyundai Genesis Coupe. And that puts into perspective the feat accomplished by Paul Dallenbach, a 9-time winner (6 divisional, 3 outright) of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. He took a stock 5,500 lb SUV, and hustled it up the side of a mountain in 12:35.6, at an average speed of 59.17 mph!

Granted, the SUV he used was a bone-stock 2014 Range Rover Sport, fitted with a supercharged 5.0L V8, which spewed 510-horsepower onto all four wheels, through one of the most advanced 4WD systems on the planet. Unlike its river-fording big brother, this leather-bound monster is tuned for road performance. And, as luck would have it, the entire 12-mile course was paved in 2012, eliminating the death-defying dirt sections. Talk about timing!

Held on June 7th, crowds at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb saw Dallenbach use the red Range Rover to set a new course record for a Production-spec Sport Utility Vehicle. And considering that the race is run by everything from motorcycles to massive 18-wheeler tractors that was quite an accomplishment. Cheerio, and well done, Range Rover!

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