The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is a legendary event in Colorado, America. It has been running since 1916 and of course, Ford vehicles have been present and entered either by the company, by teams or by individuals.
First time with a van
This year, for the 101st running of the event that is referred to as ‘The Race to the Clouds’, Ford decided to try something different. They have raced all types of powerful vehicles up the 20-km mountain road but this year is the first time they have run a van.
The van is based on a Transit, a popular model in Europe, but it is mainly in name as it has been almost entirely re-engineered into a wild hillclimb monster. And it is also fully electric, though that’s also the case for an increasing numbers of entries in the PPIH.
Updated version of SuperVan 4
Known as the SuperVan 4.2, the vehicle is an update of the Pro Electric SuperVan 4.0 that Ford showed off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England last year. Since then, the engineers at Ford Performance have improved its performance by taking off 400 kgs and enhanced the performance of the battery and the 3 electric motors which produce up to 1,400 ps.
The huge size of the Transit shape is obviously not the best for aerodynamics, so the designers instead worked on getting more downforce. The redesign of the bodywork was done in a way that up to 2 tonnes of downforce can be generated at around 240 km/h. This helped keep the van pressed onto the road as it charged around the 156 turns on the way to the summit at 4,300 metres.
Ford Performance and STARD equipped the SuperVan 4.2 with a revised regenerative braking system with carbon ceramic brake discs, magnesium forged wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero racing tyres.
Two records set
The SuperVan 4.2 was piloted by Romain Dumas, who holds the current record which he set with a fully electric Volkswagen ID R in 2018. He didn’t win overall again, so Ford’s PR machine went silent (‘there are no points for second place’, as Viper said in the original ‘Top Gun’) although he was just 7 seconds behind the winner in the Unlimited Class. Dumas did also set 2 records – one for the PPIHC Open Class qualifying, and then the Overall Open Class record.