Falken motorsport development showcased by Pikes Peak Hillclimb
Falken continued its programmes in the German VLN championship and Nürburgring 24 Hours, UK and Europe drifting championships as well as the American Le Mans Series, while a major development project for the Japanese tyre maker was its return to Pikes Peak with tyres for an electric car. At the Nürburgring Falken returned its Porsche 997 GT3 R with a new 2013 tyre compound and construction. Pole in an early round suggested the team had pace but the car went off in the rain, forced to retire. In the ALMS, Falken’s Porsche faired better, scoring a victory at Baltimore.
Falken returned to Colorado for “The Race to the Clouds” – the Pikes Peak Hillclimb – with one significant difference; a switch to a pure electric power train for Falken’s driver and multiple champion Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima. Tajima built his own car, the 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special. While a number of teams used slicks with one or two grooves, Falken followed the rules to the letter and created both soft and medium compound versions of its ZIEX S/TZ01 road tyre in 295/40/20 size.
“The compound is the only change from the road tyre,” says Stefanie Olbertz, Falken Europe’s motorsport manager. “We have kept both the tread pattern and construction exactly as the street version.” Competitors experienced weather from sun to snow and many slick runners suffered accidents. For Falken the race showed the mountain could bite back, as only one mile into the course Tajima spotted smoke from one of the motors, despite the promise of practice.
“Just like our participation in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, it‘s the unique challenge of Pikes Peak that appeals to Falken and our engineers,” says Olbertz. “This year we have lost the challenge of mixed surfaces but we now have to cope with the immediate and significant torque generated by the electric motors. It’s a great place to do tyre development.”