Despite Matt Blank being a Pikes Peak rookie and only having five races under his belt prior to the event, the Costa Mesa, California resident was mistake free, using his experience as a wingsuit pilot & base jumper to overcome the effects of high altitude. Six-time Pikes Peak veteran John Wood cited several missed gearshifts but stated the run was primarily trouble-free.
June 26, 2016: Pilot John Wood and co-pilot Matt Blank took the win and eked out enough speed to take the record for the sidecar class last week at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Wet conditions during the beginning of the race saw most motorcycle classes produce winning times well off their respective class records, but with sidecars running near midday most of the course had dried by the sun. This allowed the California duo to post an official time of 11:26.664 time, just 0.343 seconds inside the previous record.
Wood said of his run: “the road was dry and although there was less grip than in practice it was consistent the whole way up. We missed several shifts but when I caught a false-neutral in the W’s [a section of hairpins about 3/4 up the course] was the only time I was worried. We also nearly hit a pair of marmots in one of the sweepers above Devil’s Playground but fortunately my line only needed a little adjustment to miss them. There isn’t much room for line changes up there.”
Defending record holders Subculture Racing (Wade Boyd/Christine Blunk) were in attendance but beset with mechanical problems related to their drive chain. On Friday’s qualifying/practice session they spun on an oil-covered section that was not marked and went backwards into a ditch. Although Boyd was trapped under the machine for several minutes before help arrived, he was able to start the race on Sunday, though noticeably limping. Blunk injured her wrist but was able to make the start, only to have the drive chain finally jump off the sprocket about 1/4 into their run.
That left last years winner, Rising Sun Racing (Masahito Wantanabe/Masahiro Ozeki), to challenge for the win. However, after missing almost the entire week’s practice due to engine problems, they had to race based on memory, still managing a respectable 2nd place. They also managed to just snatch pole position during Friday’s qualifying by a few hundredths of a second on only their second run of the week. Team Johnny Killmore just missed out on the top qualifying spot, but also missed out on striking a deer on the course during their qualifying run, and were content with a second place start. Despite losing the bottom end of their engine on day one, French team Les Marluches (Bruno Marlin/Philippe Szendroi) took 3rd with their Benelli-Choda street-based sidecar.
For more information about Team Johnny Killmore and their racing schedule please visit www.johnnykillmore.com and click on the “motorsport” tab.