CRA Motoring News – USA
Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati
The Unplugged Performance team and veteran racer Randy Pobst had planned to adopt a pretty conservative strategy for their modified Tesla Model 3 Performance’s first Pikes Peak run.
The vehicle, after all, just had its suspension settings adjusted, and both team and driver wanted to validate how well the changes performed on the course. For the Model 3’s first run up Pikes Peak, the plan was to lift off on the straights to conserve battery for the second run, which would be flat out.
Needless to say, this plan did not end up being followed. At all.
Pobst and Unplugged’s Model 3 Performance Ascension-R launched off into the Pikes Peak course for their first climb, and soon, it became evident to the racing veteran the car was already almost perfectly dialed in. It was then that Pobst decided to forgo the initial plan and just attack the course at full power.
With the veteran racer unleashed, the Model 3 completed the run in 4:15, finishing first place in the Exhibition class. Two other Teslas, a heavily modded widebody Model 3 driven by Joshua Allan and a Model 3 Performance driven by Blake Fuller, finished second and third.
As noted by Unplugged Performance CEO Ben Schaffer, he and his team were astounded to see Randy’s 4:15 time for his first run. The team had been targeting a time of 4:30 considering their planned strategy, but ultimately, what mattered was the veteran racecar driver had tons of fun in his first climb of the day.
Pobst did suggest some tweaks to the Model 3’s settings after, asking the Unplugged team to add a bit more compression and rebound tuning. But when those changes were done, the father of Track Mode was off for his second hill climb attempt.
Pobst pushed the Model 3 Performance as hard as he could on his second run, and the results were simply astounding. With the veteran racer behind the wheel and Unplugged’s parts performing as designed, the Model 3 Performance Ascension-R was able to complete the Pikes Peak run in a stunning 4:12.
On second place was Fuller’s Model 3 Performance, which completed the climb in 4:39. Unfortunately, the widebody Model 3 driven by Allan retired after it went off track.
What was particularly astounding about Pobst’s 4:12 Pikes Peak Hill Climb run was the fact the Model 3’s time was only a few seconds off from the record set by the fastest Open Wheel car in the event, which completed the climb in 4:07.
The category hosts some of the craziest purpose-built Pikes Peak machines in the industry, so it was quite surprising to see the Model 3, which only had Unplugged Performance’s Ascension-R modifications, performing in the level of Open Wheel vehicles. In fact, had the Model 3 been competing in the Open Wheel category, it would have finished the day in third place. That’s a pretty insane thought.
“What surprised us the most today [besides capturing first place in qualifying] was how we compared to the other group running our section of the mountain,” Schaffer said. “We ran with the Open Wheel cars and that group has some huge power and very lightweight cars. The fastest Open Wheel car was Clint Vahsholtz, who ran a 4:07. If we were racing in the Open Wheel division, we would have qualified third place, which is pretty insane given how extreme those purpose-built cars are for this event.”
After dominating the Exhibition class in the event’s first day, Pobst noted the Tesla Model 3 is arguably the best car he has driven at Pikes Peak to date. This is no small statement, seeing as the legendary driver had climbed the challenging, dangerous course multiple times in the past behind the wheel of the industry’s most aggressive vehicles.
“It was quite an honor to hear that from such a legendary driver that we respect so dearly,” Schaffer said.
Article Credit to Teslarati.