Victory successfully contested the Centennial Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the electric Empulse RR and the Project 156 concept. With wins at their respective classes, Electric and Exhibition Powersports, they managed second and third place in the overall motorcycle classification.
Last year Victory Motorcycles fielded the Project 156 at Pikes Peak; a naked concept sportbike based in the Indian Scout, race prepped with the help of renowned custom builder Roland Sands. With Cycle World's Don Canet on its saddle, it started with promising results but a fall during practice and a mechanical problem on race day hampered Victory's first attempt at the illustrious road race.
Empowered by the success it enjoyed at the Isle of Man TT Zero a few weeks ago, Victory returned to Colorado, USA for the centennial 2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), and this time doubled its effort with two motorcycles in different classes.
This year Victory also contested the Electric class with the Empulse RR. Based on the production Empulse TT model, the electric race bike uses the know-how acquired from last year's debut TT Zero attempt – and is completely different the 2016 Victory RR. Rid of the full body kit it raced at the Isle of Man on 2015, it featured a lighter and more aerodynamic monocoque carbon fiber subframe, upgraded battery, controller, and Parker Hannifin motor, plus several adjustments to the riding position in order to better suit its new rider, Don Canet.
After last year's debut PPIHC experience with the Project 156, Canet this time switched to the Empulse RR, managing to finish first among five contestants. Canet's official time was 10:17.813 with an average speed of 69.9 mph (112.5 km/h).
The Project 156 returned to the PPIHC with Jeremy Toye, a rider with road racing experience from the Isle of Man TT, Macau Grand Prix, and of course Pikes Peak. With the naked V-twin still in concept form, the team contested the Exhibition Powersports class and managed to complete the climb in 10:19.777 with an average speed of 69.7 mph (112.2 km/h). Of course running as the sole contender of its class meant that all the Project 156 had to do to win was to cross the finish line.
The most resounding result is probably not the class wins, but rather the fact that Victory's racers occupied the two runner-up spots of the overall motorcycle classification. Losing only to the Kawasaki Z1000 of Bruno Langlois, the Empulse RR (second) and Project 156 (third) clocked faster times that most Heavyweight bikes – including infamous ground to ground missiles such as KTM 1290 Super Duke, Ducati Multistrada 1200 and Aprilia Tuono V4.
In a year that no motorcycle managed to break the 10-minute barrier, the two Victory bikes achieved the very respectable 15th (Empulse RR) and 17th (Project 156) places in the overall classification of the 2016 PPHIC among a total of 77 finishers.
It wasn't easy, especially since Victory's riders were among the first to start their timed runs on race day. During the early morning hours the riders stood at the starting line with warnings of water and possibly ice on the last high-altitude stages. In contrast, when the Heavyweight class started competing around mid-day, the tarmac was completely dry allowing for more aggressive riding. Could it have been any different if they all raced with the same road conditions?
"My hope for a King of the Mountain top time evaporated as the downtime allowed the road to dry prior to the Heavyweight class contenders making their run, there's almost no way to fully prepare for the track conditions you'll see in the early morning runs," said Don Canet.
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