Kenworth heading to international hill climb

Avatar photo

PIKES PEAK, Colo. – Kenworth has announced it will once again race a Kenworth T2000 in the 81st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this Saturday.

The Kenworth team enters the race with a new tandem-axle T2000 race truck re-engineered to set a new record in the Big Rig Division – Highway Class. In 2002, the team sped to a record-setting victory with 13 minutes 57 seconds, beating the previous year’s record by 2 seconds.

The new T2000 is 1,000 lbs. lighter than last year’s entry. It features a twin turbo on the Caterpillar C-16 engine, which will eliminate turbo lag and help the vehicle accelerate more quickly coming out of the tight turns at Pikes Peak. The truck often has to slow to 20mph or less to go through the turns, then accelerate hard from almost a dead stop.

The switch to a twin turbo was made possible due to a rules change resulting form the announced introduction of Caterpillar’s ACERT product engine.

Previous rules only allowed entrants to use production engine configurations intended for highway use. The mean that up to and including last year, entrants were limited to using a six-cylinder in-line diesel engine with a single turbo. But the introduction of the new ACERT engine with twin turbos opened the door.

“The only difference is that we mount the turbos in parallel instead of in series to get better turbo response,” explained Kenworth’s chief engineer Jim Bechtold. “We get the same boost as we did with a larger single turbo, but it comes on quicker and more smoothly.”

Output from the C-16 engine is the same as last year, around 1,375 horsepower AT 2,600 rpm and 4,000 lb./feet of torque at the starting line elevation, dropping to 1,290 horsepower in the thinner air of the summit. “We’ve also changed the recirculating ball type steering to a new ZF Lenksysteme Servotronic rack and pinion steering system,” Bechtold said. “It has fewer turns lock to lock and the speed-sensitive power assist provides a more direct, positive feel.”

The improved suspension will provide better lateral and forward traction, which is especially important when racing on the gravel surface of the Pikes Peak course.
The improved suspension will provide better lateral and forward traction, which is especially important when racing on the gravel surface of the Pikes Peak course.

Other enhancements to improve traction include a Tractech limited slip differential in the Dana drive axle, and a Bosch Automatic Traction Control system, which is integrated into the hydraulic disc brake system.

“The driver will be able to engage it or disengage it at will,” Bechtold said. “It will allow better control of power-on, over-steer coming out of the turns.”

Kenworth engineers worked with TransPro to develop a higher capacity cooling module.

“Last year was the first year with the 18-liter CAT engine, and combined with temperatures over 90 degrees at the starting line, we had some overheating problems,” Bechtold said. “The new cooling module has the
radiator in the middle with a split charge air cooler – the first pass in the back, and the finishing pass in the front. This keeps the radiator from having to absorb the heat from the charge air system.”

With the engine and suspension changes Bechtold expects the T2000 to post a much better time up the hill than last year.

“Overheating cost us 30 seconds or more last year,” he said. “The truck was posting times of around 13 minutes 15 seconds in practice. We lost a lot of power on race day with the heat and we did very well to still beat our previous best race time. With all the changes to the new truck, we should be faster than ever.”

Weather has always been difficult to predict on the 12.42-mile race course, which starts at an elevation of 9,400 feet and rises all the way to 14,110 feet. With snow still covering the course in early June, the Kenworth race team was forced to use an alternate site in Eastern Washington for practice runs.

“We are still expecting it to be dry and dusty on race day,” said veteran race driver Bruce Canepa of Santa Cruz, Calif., back for his fourth year with the Kenworth team. “We will need to make the most of the two days of practice we get on the Hill before the race. The key for me is to stay smooth. The road is narrow and the curves are tight. I’ve got to make the best use of the surface I have available to me. We’re still around 3,500 pounds heavier than the two-axle race trucks, but I think we will be breathing down their necks with this new truck.”

Kenworth is again using a ZF 5HP500 5-speed Ecomat transmission modified by ZF to racing specifications. Bridgestone’s M711 low-profile 255/70R22.5 drive tires with hand-cut tread pattern are used for maximum traction, secured to Alcoa aluminum wheels with 20 beadlock screws per tire.

Kenworth’s major participating suppliers in this year’s racing effort include Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, Caterpillar, Eaton, Dana, DuPont, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, ArvinMeritor and ZF.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Web site is Bruce Canepa operates Canepa Design in Santa Cruz, Calif. The firm’s Web site is

Avatar photo

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.