After months of preparation and lack of sleep, Robert Thorne Racing and SCR Performance are pleased to announce that Robert claimed a 2nd place finish in his first attempt to race up Pikes Peak. With a time of 12 minutes he became the 2nd fastest rookie in his class and only 4 seconds behind the winning time of 11:56. It was just what the team needed to complete a very successful week on the Peak.
When Robert Thorne and SCR Performance announced their partnership for the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the world knew it would be a good match. Team owner Mark Baer had the right experience and Robert was the perfect driver for the car. In December of 2010, the building of the Time Attack 4 Wheel Drive Audi A4 began. As with most racing projects there were minor bumps along the road, but Robert and the team didn’t let that hurt their confidence.
After completing the tire test weekend on June 4th and 5th, Robert started feeling more and more ready to attack the mountain on race day. As Peak Week slowly came within reach, Robert competed in an SCCA AutoCross event to stay behind the wheel and brought home the class win. He was also in attendance at the Global RallyCross Championship race the weekend before the Hill Climb, getting the chance to catch up with fellow Hill Climber Rhys Millen, and relax at the track before the craziness of Peak Week began.
Peak Week began on June 21st with the team arriving in Colorado Springs and heading to Tech Inspection at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. A huge sigh of relief swept across the team as the car was cleared and ready to head up the mountain the following morning, for the first day of official practice. European Performance Specialists was kind enough to share some of their shop space, allowing them to have a temporary home while staying in Colorado Springs for the week. Thankfully, nothing major needed to be done to the car throughout the week.
Practice day one was filled with anticipation and jitters. The start of the 2 a.m. wake up calls had begun. Thorne and co-driver Nicholas Caruso were headed to the middle section consisting of only pavement, from Cove Creek to 16 mile. Knowing what they had learned from tire test they were ready for anything the road threw at them. With everyone feeling comfortable they finished off the morning after 3 runs and were set for day two.
Day two sent them to the top section, from Devils Playground to the Summit, also fully paved. This section, being one of the hardest during practice due to the sunrise, didn’t stop Thorne and Caruso from another successful day and bringing the car back to the shop fully put together. As Caruso and Thorne bettered their communication and comfort, they brought home very smooth times and were very pleased with what the car had to offer at 14,000 ft.
The final day of practice sent them to the bottom section, from the Start line to Glen Cove, was also the most important. The results of the best run would be the team’s qualifying time, determining where in line they started. This section being Thorne’s favorite, made him even more confident for race day. The team spent this session determining what tires to run on race day, being the only section with 3 miles of dirt. With such a small amount of dirt and gravel road and large amount of pavement, finding just the right tire compound and tread pattern was something every team had to worry about.
After practice on Friday, the team loaded up and headed to a car wash, it was time to prepare for Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs. With the anticipation of 30,000 plus people walking around the festivities, it was the perfect time to meet and greet all your favorite drivers. Thorne and Caruso were in attendance with the Audi A4 all evening, showing multiple in-car videos, chatting with the fans, and signing autographs. After a long 3 days of practice the team was ready to enjoy their full day off after fan fest and mentally prepare for race day. Thorne headed to Denver with his parents to enjoy some local autocross and relaxation.
As the alarm went off on Sunday morning the nerves began to sink in. Everyone was ready for whatever outcome the Peak felt was deserved. Arriving at the tollgate at 3:10 a.m., the team headed to their pit space and began unloading the car. Thorne and Caruso grabbed a quick nap and had time to walk around and talk with other competitors. As the morning went on and the drivers meeting was complete, the tension began to grow, everyone just wanted to get in line and see the green flag.
After several hours of waiting it was finally Thorne’s turn to shine. As he took the green flag the team gathered around a radio to hear each corner worker call him through. 8 mile, Halfway Picnic Grounds, Glen Cove, 16-mile….they were almost there. Bottomless Pit, Boulder Park…only a few turns left. As the team heard race control say 95 finish, the hugs and emotions began. After such hard work and commitment Robert Thorne and co–driver Nicholas Caruso had done it. They had made it through 156 turns, all the way to 14,110 ft, to the summit of Pikes Peak.
Now it was time to wait the 6 hours until they came back down, during the parade and the celebrating could begin. It was time for the team to breathe that sigh of relief that the car and drivers were both in one piece, and ready for the next thing to be thrown their way. As the parade, began the team waited patiently for their car to come around the last corner and back through the start line. Once again the emotions were high, as the Audi emerged around the corner. Both driver and co-driver’s hands could be seen sticking out the windows as they “high fived” fans and received all the well wishes from everyone.
Once out of the car, Thorne began thinking to the future, “Of course I want to come back next year!” stated Thorne.
So here it is – 2012 – and we are anxiously awaiting what is happening in Robert’s garage, as he prepares for his second Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. So Robert – care to share your plans with My Life at Speed?
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