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Rod Millen is a legend in motorsports, in particular the fabled Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. 

The 61-year-old auto racing superstar from New Zealand and now Newport Beach, California, has won nine titles on Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain since his initial triumph in 1989 in the then Pikes Peak Production division in a Mazda MXG with a clocking of 12.43.740 minutes.

It’s doubtful then that he could imagine being back again in an Electric automobile, but that is exactly what he will pilot this year.

His last win on the Peak came in 2011, when he claimed the crown in the Time Attack 2WD division, winning with a time of 11:04.912 in a Hyundai Genesis.

He has won the showcase Unlimited division five times, second only to Japan’s Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima’s nine wins in the division. Between the two, they have claimed a grand total of 17 wins on the Peak.

At the moment, the two will collide head-on in the Electric Auto division on June 30, with Millen, the father of another Pikes Peak superstar, Rhys Millen, shifting with Tajima to the Electrics this year, though somewhat confusing media reports out of Japan state that Tajima may change course and return to his favored Unlimited field.

Two-time Electric winner Ikuo Hanawa of Japan (2010-2011) is also in the field behind the wheel of his Summit HER-02.

Rhys Millen will return to the Unlimited division this year in search of his ninth PPIHC title after setting the all-time course record of 9:46.164 in winning the Time Attack division.

The all-time course record for the Electric auto division belongs to Japan’s Fumio Nutahara,who clocked 10:15.380 last year in a Toyota TMG EV P002 himself.

Rod Millen will drive something special in the Electric division this year on Pikes Peak, and here’s the story from Toyota.

TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has sent a revised TMG EV P002 to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to defend its Electric crown. Based on data gained from last year’s record-breaking run of 10 minutes 15.380 seconds, engineers at TMG’s electric vehicle technology centre have generated more performance from the TMG powertrain to further improve that mark.

The TMG EV P002 is already the benchmark for electric race cars worldwide, having demonstrated true performance and versatility in establishing the current electric records at Pikes Peak and Nürburgring Nordschleife. The car is currently on its way to Salisbury, N.C., where TOYOTA Racing Development U.S.A. Inc. (TRD USA) will perform aerodynamic upgrades to the Radical-based chassis as well as track testing.

On June 30, just one week after TMG’s TOYOTA Racing team takes on the Le Mans 24 Hours with a hybrid prototype, Rod Millen will drive the TMG EV P002 at Pikes Peak. As a multiple record-setter at Pikes Peak and regular competitor in TOYOTA machinery, the 61-year-old New Zealander is highly experienced and will benefit from various improvements to the high-tech racer.

TMG has recent experience of delivering performance upgrades specific to a given track, having used data from its 2011 Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record to improve by more than 25 seconds a year later.

Motor speed and torque have been increased while the powertrain’s operating parameters have been tuned to better suit the challenge of the unique 19.99 kilometer Pikes Peak track, based on experience gained during last year’s class victory.

TMG support crew will further optimize the powertrain during the practice week prior to race day, while using experience gained from last year to assist their TRD USA colleagues in running the car.

Once again TMG is using its pioneering off-board battery-to-battery charging technology, including Schneider Electric EVlink™ DC Charger, to charge the TMG EV P002 from the mountainside, where there is no reliable connection to the power grid.

Mounted in the rear of a TOYOTA Hiace, the TMG DC Quick Charger includes a 42 kilowatt lithium ion battery, which can be charged directly from the AC power grid. After an overnight charge, the TMG DC Quick Charger is able to quickly deliver high levels of power to a battery-based electric car without additional installation or infrastructure.

With varying current and voltage output, the TMG DC Quick Charger becomes an independent source of power for rapid recharging in any location, making it the perfect solution for electric motorsport.

Claudia Brasse, TMG Executive Coordinator Strategic EV Development:
“We are very excited to return to Pikes Peak alongside our TOYOTA colleagues from the United States. The TMG EV P002 has a perfect history of three records from three attempts, none of which have been beaten, so we have high standards to maintain. The improvements we have made to the powertrain are expected to deliver even higher performance levels, which should again confirm the TMG EV P002 as the standard bearer for electric race cars. But as well as the electric powertrain itself, we are successfully innovating in the area of charging infrastructure. It is easy to take this for granted when you are working in a well-supplied laboratory or workshop. But motorsport doesn’t always take place in such an environment; you have to deal with varying levels of infrastructure and uncertainty regarding the power grid. The potential for off-board battery-to-battery charging technology is great, particularly in the world of motorsport where infrastructure limitations will increasingly become a source of frustration for electric motorsport. We have a flexible solution which can be adapted for different types of race and passenger car. We look forward to again demonstrating both aspects of our EV technology at Pikes Peak.”

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