Dai Yoshihara Visits Pikes Peak Before the Big Race
With the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) rapidly approaching (June 23-30) 2011 Formula DRIFT Champion Dai Yoshihara has been trying to familiarize himself with the 12.42-mile course and its 156 turns as it climbs 4720ft into the clouds.
Up until now, Dai has been using the Assetto Corsa PC driving simulator to learn the course. But there’s nothing like boots on the ground, so last week he flew to Colorado to drive the mountain itself.
“This wasn’t my first time at Pikes Peak,” Dai admitted. “I was here in 2008 when I drove for Rhys Millen. Rhys is a regular competitor at Pikes Peak and I accompanied him out here. Back then, I didn’t get to drive so this time I borrowed a Toyota 86 from Colorado Springs Toyota and drove out to the mountain.”
While a driving sim can help you learn the rhythm of the hill, it can’t accurately portray the physical elements: “I needed to see the elevation, feel the road surface and its bumps, assess the banking in the turns,” Dai continued. “These elements are difficult to capture on a computer screen.”
Much like the official practice sessions, Dai didn’t tackle the entire hill in one gulp. “I split the course into sections and drove each one four or five times to burn the turns into my memory. When you drive the entire hill, it’s difficult to remember specific corners, but by breaking it down into smaller chunks you seem to remember it better,” Dai told us.
One of the biggest factors at Pikes Peak is the altitude since the finish line is at 14115ft. “Our stock Toyota 86 was definitely feeling the elevation,” Dai confirmed, “but we won’t have the same problem in our ENEOS / Evasive Motorsports / Turn14 Distribution Toyota 86. It’s Toyota 2JZ engine will have around 900hp for the race and the Garrett turbo should ensure the power doesn’t drop off. However, I was surprised at how light headed you feel when you walk around at the top of Pikes Peak. I got a headache after a short time, so it’s something new for me.”
So how does Dai rate his chances at the PPIHC now that he’s been up the mountain?
“I’m feeling confident about finishing the race. I’m familiar with the track but there are so many variables with the car and weather that I can’t control. We’ve completed the testing with Evasive Motorsports (evasivemotorsports.com) and the car is in great shape. The team has made all the changes I requested and rebuilt everything to ensure it’s up to the challenge. However, we can’t control the weather. It changes constantly up here but, if everything goes well, I have no doubt we’ll finish.”
Stayed tuned for more updates from the ENEOS / Evasive Motorsports / Turn14 Distribution Toyota 86 and its 2019 assault on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Follow us on social media for additional updates and news from the race itself:
By Greg Emmerson
Photos Dai Yoshihara, Joyce Leung