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By TAG Heuer, TAG HEUER TEAM —  28 Jun 2017

HARROWING ASCENT TO THE CLOUDS

On the highest point of the Southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, drivers race against the clock up the merciless route of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

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The iconic “Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb,” with TAG Heuer as its Official Timekeeper, was run Sunday June 25th high in the mountains of Colorado. More than 80 drivers took part in the race that was divided into 12 categories of cars, motorcycles, quads and trucks. Romain Dumas finished the race in 9.05.672 minutes taking top honors for the second year in a row. This was his third overall win on the mountain. Congratulations to a true champion!

Competitors ascend 1440 metres (4,720 ft) over the 19.99 kilometre (12.42 mile) course rounding 156 treacherous bends. Yet even under these gruelling conditions, it took the winner just over 9 minutes to arrive to the finish line at 4300 metres (14,115 ft) in the clouds – an astonishing feat! At this altitude, the atmospheric pressure is a challenge for both driver and engine – a true #dontcrackunderpressure experience.

The Pikes Peak race was born in 1916, the same year TAG Heuer launched its first Mikrograph, the first chronograph accurate to 1/100 of a second. These extremely high-quality chronographs were used for sporting events throughout the world.

Also known as "The Race to the Clouds", the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) achieved legendary status as the second oldest car and motorcycle race in the United States. One of the truly unique features of the race is the change of atmospheric density as the route ascends to the summit of the mountain. The starting line is located at an altitude of 2,862 meters (9,390 feet) where atmospheric density is 71% of the density at sea level. This reduces engine performance proportionally. When drivers reach the summit at 14,115 ft. (4,302.25m), torque will have diminished to 59% of its optimal performance. At this altitude, a vehicle’s ability to accelerate has been reduced nearly by half.

Apart from the effects on engines, the altitude of the PPIHC also negatively affects the bodies of the drivers. As oxygen levels decrease during the rapid ascent, mental agility is impaired, reflexes are dulled and muscles begin to cramp. Drivers must choose whether or not to add oxygen masks to an already complex array of gear in an attempt to decrease the headaches, dizziness and weakness that will inhibit their capacity to react quickly on a course with very few safety barriers between the narrow road and steep mountain cliffs.

HARROWING ASCENT TO THE CLOUDS

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HARROWING ASCENT TO THE CLOUDS

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