Peak Performance—Part 3: Working Together
by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Acura
As times continue to plunge at Pikes Peak year after year, one manufacturer found itself rewriting the history books in 2018. Join us at Rally-America.com and iRally every day this week as we take a look back at Acura's 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb program!
With four totally different race cars in three classes, one might have expected the Acura team members to have little to share on the mountain. Not so, say the drivers, with Peter Cunningham, despite running the fastest and most powerful car, quickest to credit his teammates.
“They did more of the helping to me—I didn’t help them any except providing levity and humor to the group,” he says. “Particularly, when I was showing up for the first time, James (Robinson) and Nick (Robinson) had an open book and helped me any way the could in my learning process of the road. You’ve heard the story about how (Pikes Peak) is only 12.42 miles long, which is a similar distance to taking three laps at Road America. But three laps at Road America, at 14 turns a lap, is 42 corners, whereas at Pikes Peak, that 12.42 miles is 156 corners. So Nick and James were very helpful to me in learning the road.”
Because of how challenging the course is, every bit of information about how to take each corner helps, and all sorts of observations from each driver can prove to be a factor. Take Tuesday’s qualifying runs, for example, where Nick caught a crucial detail that the rest of the team wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
“We made our first run and were coming back down the hill to put our second run in,” he recalls. “I was three or four cars behind PD, and another competitor actually had his engine open up—he threw a rod or something, the case opened up, and he dumped oil all over the road. So they closed the course after we got back to the pit area to do the turnaround, and they put oil dry down, swept it, and everything like that.
“Having that kind of information, that into Engineer’s Corner there was some oil dry in the braking zone, that’s pretty critical. That’s one of the faster portions on the lower portion of the hill. I saw that, but PD didn’t see that and James didn’t see that. So in that detail, I was able to give some critical course information to them so that they could have that on their second run and make sure not to have any issues themselves.”
“One of the nice things about the Pikes Peak event is that it’s a lot like Rally America specifically, where the competitors—which, we really aren’t, we’re team members—but everyone wants the best for each other, to have a solid run up the hill,” says James. “It’s just great because we’re all able to share our current expertise with different vehicles, or our course knowledge, and even data.
“We’re taking a lot of telemetry in all the vehicles, and after each practice we’re actually sharing the telemetry with one another, breaking out pointers on different corners, and just sharing our day-by-day experience, trying to make everyone have a strong race day. It’s really a very unique environment where we have that kind of camaraderie and ability to work together.”