Jean-Philippe Dayraut, France’s three-time Trophée Andros champion, had long dreamt of contesting the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and his enthusiasm ended up convincing Dacia and Renault Sport Technologies to join him in this extraordinary adventure which called for a hint of folly and bucket-loads of passion!

In the event Dayraut claimed 3rd place overall in the unlimited class, behind Rhys Millen and the incredible Monster Tajima-san, who broke the course record and achieved the first sub-10-minute time up the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with 9:51.278.

Dayraut was just under 27 seconds behind this record-breaking time and the car’s run and podium finish were unanimously praised by the organisers, fellow competitors and spectators alike.

Jean-Philippe Dayraut in testing prior to race day. This was the Frenchman’s first time at Pikes Peak.

Ahead of the big day, Jean-Philippe had just three days of practice to prepare for the competition, familiarise himself with the terrain and size up his rivals, many of whom have been contesting the event for years and know the course by heart. Covering the full 20km course and its 156 turns in one go was predictably an unforgettable experience for the Dacia Duster No Limit driver.

Indeed, this is an event for professionals with experience of circuit racing and loose surface competition, and Jean-Philippe Dayraut’s record of six French circuit racing titles (single-seaters, touring cars), as well as in ice racing (he has won the Trophée Andros three times, including the 2010/2011 series), made him an ideally qualified opponent for the other participants.

Jean-Philippe Dayraut ponders the enormity of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb challenge

“It’s got to be the most incredible and craziest event I have ever done,” he smiled afterwards. “The mix of asphalt and gravel calls for special driving skills and I am thrilled to have finished on the podium and competed up there with best.”

In terms of outright performance, the Frenchman’s Dacia Duster – which tipped the scales at 950kg, and which was powered by an 850hp Sodemo-tuned engine based on the Nissan GT-R’s 3.8-litre V6 – fell well short of its chief rival prototypes, the power of which exceeded 1,000hp.

However, Dacia Duster No Limit’s chassis – purpose-built for the occasion by Tork Engineering (design, production assembly and development) in association with Renault Sport Technologies, which brought its unique motorsport experience to the table – was certainly the one of the most effective in this year’s field.

Race day. Dacia contest the 89th edition of the celebrated Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

The performance of Dayraut and his Dacia was made even more remarkable by the fact that the project only dates back to last December. The purpose-built car was produced in just three months and this was the debut attempt at the Colorado-based event of both the driver and the Dacia brand.

Predictably the team have been bitten by the Pikes Peak bug and plan on repeating the adventure in 2012… Well it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Top 3 finishers in the Pikes Peak Unlimited Class

Competitor Car Time (min)
1- Nobuhiro Tajima Suzuki SX4 9m51s (new record)**
2- Rhys Millen Hyundai RMR PM580 10m9s
3- Jean-Philippe Dayraut Dacia Duster 10m17s


Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

More from this author

Try These Next

Stories we think you'll enjoy

Privacy Preference Center

%d bloggers like this: