With no motorcycles, no spectators and limited international drivers, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will certainly look and feel different in 2020, but it provides an opportunity for the crowning of a new King of the Mountain.
David Donohue, who placed fourth overall and second in the Pikes Peak Open division, is the top returning driver from 2019. The West Chester, Pa., native will drive a 2019 Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport, an upgrade from the 2016 Porsche 911 he competed in last year. Donohue will be one of 12 drivers to race a Porsche up America’s Mountain.
Typically the motorcycle division runs first, from slowest qualifier to the fastest, followed by the four-wheel divisions running from fastest qualifying time to slowest. However, without a two-wheel division in 2020, the exhibition division, followed by four Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama drivers, will navigate the 156 turns first.
The first car up the mountain will be a 1949 Ford F1 driven by Scott Birdsall of Santa Rosa, Calif. It is also the oldest car in the field. Following Birdsall will be Shawn Bassett of Orlando, Fla., driving a 1972 Datsun 240Z.
Donohue earned the fastest qualifying time in the 44-driver field by nearly four seconds and will be the first to run the mountain following the exhibition and Porsche Pikes Peak divisions.
He will be followed by Colorado Springs’ David Donner, also driving a 2019 Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport. Donohue (3:55.942) and Donner (3:59.702), both competing in the Time Attack 1 division, are the only two drivers in the field to complete a qualifying run in under four minutes.
Donner is a three-time King of the Mountain in the open wheel division, but has not won since 2005.
Local legend and Woodland Park native Clint Vahsholtz will follow Donner, competing in his 28th race in a 2013 Ford Open. He placed eighth and second in the Time Attack 1 division last year in a 2014 McLaren 650S.
Vahsholtz could bring home his 24th division title and first since 2017 as he has the fastest qualifying time (4:02.986) in the open wheel division by more than five seconds.
The race will feature just one international driver, Akio Kobayashi (2000 Porsche 911 GT3) of Yokohama, Japan. Daijiro Yoshihara (2013 Toyota 86) will also represent Japan, but resides in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Yoshihara, who did not reach the summit last year in his rookie run, said last year’s race was a ‘dream come true’ despite not reaching the finish line.
John McInnes (2020 Sierra RX3) and Blake Williams (2018 Porsche GT4 Clubsport) will represent Australia, though their place of residence is Eden, Utah, and Mesa, Ariz., respectively.
The remaining 40 competitors represent 15 states, including 21 drivers from Colorado.
Through practice and qualifying two Tesla Model 3s crashed, knocking out rookie Josh Allen and veteran Randy Pobst from the race. Neither driver was injured according to reports.
Allen crashed on the first day of practice, sliding off a left-hand corner around the 10-mile mark and across a ditch, but avoided colliding with trees. Pobst slid off the course on Wednesday morning during qualifying. Pobst attributed the crash to a large bump in the road in the upper section, according to reports.
Good news is @RandyPobst is ok. Bad news is we are down to one Tesla. #ppihc pic.twitter.com/AmG49Xwmhz
— MattHardigree (@MattHardigree) August 26, 2020
There were three Tesla Model 3s set to compete at Pikes Peak this weekend. I feel for this team’s crash on first practice day. pic.twitter.com/fFfSTzmJet
— J.F. Musial (@jfmusial) August 25, 2020
Last year, drivers complained about road conditions above the treeline and some attributed Carlin Dunne’s deadly motorcycle crash to a large bump in the road near the finish line. Though the Hill Climb’s official investigation found Dunne high-sided.
“Too fast too soon, first run, first massive bump on top section,” Pobst said in an Instagram post. “I know better. I know it’s rough up there. … She’s pretty beat up.”
Late Thursday night, however, Pobst said they will begin rebuilding his car with parts from another Model 3 Performance. His team worked at the Colorado Springs Euro Cars service center through the night in an attempt to complete the needed repairs before Sunday. Pobst will race seventh overall in the Exhibition class.
“We might just make it,” Pobst said in a YouTube live broadcast Friday evening.