EV Year at Pikes Peak: Ford Breaks Mid-Race but Still Wins, Hyundai and Rivian Kill It

EVs dominate this year's Pikes Peak race 10 photos
Photo: Rivian, Ford, Hyundai
Rivian R1T Pikes PeakRivian R1T Pikes PeakRivian R1T Pikes PeakHyundai Ioniq 5 NHyundai Ioniq 5 N Time AttackHyundai Ioniq 5 NHyundai Ioniq 5 N Time AttackFord F-150 Lightning SuperTruckFord F-150 Lightning SuperTruck
This year's Pikes Peak race showed that electric vehicles are a mainstay of auto competitions despite some obvious shortcomings. Although no Tesla ran the Pikes this year, its spirit was present as Randy Pobst explained why Hyundai did so well. However, it was Ford that stole the show, with the F-150 Lightning SuperTruck crowned King of the Mountain despite breaking mid-race.
Although electric vehicles offer explosive performance that puts most combustion race cars to shame, they are still dominating on the race track. Thanks to their instantaneous power delivery, they can jump ahead of most gas-engine vehicles. However, this is only true for a sprint, not a marathon. This is why EVs dominate drag races but are almost non-existent in longer races.

That's because they cannot sustain full performance for very long, as thermal limitations come into play. The battery and drive units overheat quickly when pushed to the limits during a hill climb race, for instance. Longer races are also difficult because most EVs would run out of battery very quickly. However, enthusiasts and factory teams have been racing electric vehicles in high-profile races.

Out with Teslas, in with Hyundais

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is arguably the most famous, which is why we've seen many EVs trying to set a record here. Not impossible, but very difficult, as past years' experience has shown. Thanks to Unplugged Performance, one of the best tuners for Tesla EVs, the EV maker has had a leg in the race. This, however, did not last very long.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Time Attack
Photo: Hyundai
In 2022, three Teslas ran the Pikes in the Exhibition class, one Model 3 Performance and two Model S Plaid, including one driven by Randy Pobst. Last year, Pobst remained the only one racing a Tesla, finishing the race in the 10th position in 9:54.901. However, he drove one of the two Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Time Attack cars this year.

Despite failing to beat the time he achieved with the modified Model S Plaid in 2023, Pobst (ranked 8th, finishing the race in 9:55.551) bashed Tesla for its thermal limitations. "I had full power the whole way up for the first time in five years of EVs on Pikes Peak," Pobst told reporters. He previously ran in various Teslas, making this even more painful for the EV maker.

Even though Pobst didn't break any records at his first attempt in a Hyundai, his teammate Dani Sordo finished third, with a 9:30,852 time, proving what a beast the Ioniq 5 N Time Attack prototype could be. Another Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, this time in stock specifications, finished the race in 10:49.267 minutes with Ron Zaras behind the wheel. Thanks to this performance, Hyundai swept the podium in the Exhibition Division. And with two cars in the Top 10, Hyundai EVs made an impressive debut at Pikes Peak this year.

Ford did what it does best: broke mid-race, still the fastest in 2024

This year's Pikes Peak race was the perfect metaphor for Ford's reliability. The carmaker with the most recalls in the US for the past few years has entered the Pikes Peak Open Division with a heavily modified F-150 Lightning and almost blew it. The prototype piloted by Romain Dumas came to a complete stop in the first sector after it unexpectedly switched off. Dumas lost 26 seconds in that sector versus his qualifying time as he had to reset the 1,600-horsepower F-150 Lightning SuperTruck to continue his climb.

Ford F\-150 Lightning SuperTruck
Photo: Ford
Dumas still managed to finish the race in 8:53.553, enough for Ford to claim the King of the Mountain crown this year. Dumas is a Pikes Peak veteran, being the all-time PPIHC record holder, four-time King of Mountain, and seven-time division winner. He also piloted Ford's SuperVan 4.2 in 2023, ranking second with a time of 8:47.682.

Romain Dumas set the all-time Pikes Peak record in 2018 with the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R, finishing the race in 7 minutes and 57.148 seconds. Even if the F-150 Lightning SuperTruck worked flawlessly, it could not break the ID.R's record.

A hard-earned win: refreshed Rivian R1T beats production truck record

Winning the race riding a thoroughbred might not be difficult, but doing the same with a wagon horse is a different thing altogether. For the second time at Pikes Peak, Rivian's Performance Test Engineer Gardner Nichols attempted (and succeeded) to break last year's record. In 2023, Nichols raced his personal R1T with no modifications.

Rivian R1T Pikes Peak
Photo: Rivian
This time, he benefitted from the full Rivian support, having a service team at his disposal. The R1T truck was still in stock configuration, but this time, it was the refreshed Quad-Motor model, which features in-house developed drive units. The four Ascend motors produce a total of 1,025 horsepower, making it the most powerful Rivian to date. The performance boost allowed Rivian driver to improve his time from 11:23.983 to 10:53.883.

It might not sound too much, but you should be impressed, considering the mid-size truck was only four seconds slower than the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N hot-hatch driven by Ron Zaras. The time represents a new record for any production truck, gas or electric, and even beats the stock 2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance by about ten seconds. We're still waiting for the refreshed Model 3 Performance to run the Pikes and reclaim the production vehicle crown.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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