Kings of the mountain

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PIKE’S PEAK, Co. – Mike Ryan has defended his title as the fastest trucker on Pike’s Peak, driving a Freightliner ST up the Colorado mountain in 13:39.02 and marking a single-axle record in the Class 8 trucks class.

It’s his fourth-straight win in the annual Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb, which is run every July 4.

The race is run over a 12.42-mile course to the mountain’s 14,110-foot summit, with grades that reach a maximum of 10.5 per cent and an average of seven per cent. Drivers make their way through 156 turns. Vehicles of all sorts – from cars to trucks and motorcycles – race in various classes.

Bruce Canepa of Santa Crus, Ca. piloted a 1999 Kenworth T2000 for second place in the category, with a time of 14:34.41, and set a tandem-axle record in the process. He had taken over the driver’s seat from CFI chairman and CEO Glenn F. Brown.

Shane Chapman of Auckland, N.Z. crossed the finish line less than a second later with a time of 14:35.09 at the wheel of a 2000 Sterling A113- the manufacturer’s first-ever entry in the competition.

This year, Ryan’s truck was powered by a new engine based on the Mercedes-Benz 501 V-6 twin-turbo diesel, with a peak power exceeding 1,200 hp. The 155-inch wheelbase truck also featured a ZF Ecomat five-speed automatic transmission, custom three-inch chrome molly front axle with ConMet hubs, Meritor RS-19-145 rear axle, Bilstein coil-over front and rear shocks, Meritor hydraulic disc brakes, Accuride alloy wheels and Michelin tires.

Millions of people who don’t follow the racing scene have still seen Ryan drive. His stunt-driving credits include big rig roles in such movies as Terminator 2, Thelma and Louise and Independence Day. n

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