Buried a little in yesterday's timesheets from Pikes Peak was an eyebrow-raising record set for the fastest ever production car time up the mountain, which was set by Kiwi Rhys Millen driving Bentley's luxury Continental GT.
Millen, a three-time Pikes Peak champion, punted the W12 Bentley up the hill under the #100 plate to celebrate Bentley's centenary, and put in a very respectable time of 10:18.488, registering 14th overall place and 12th out of the four-wheelers, doubtless enjoying by far the comfiest ride of anyone in the entire field.
All this, of course, in a machine that weighs more than 2,500 kg (5,100 lb) and is designed to prioritize luxury over performance. Not only that, it's essentially stock, with the addition of a set of sportier DOT-legal tires. Still, the Continental's W12 engine makes a meaty 626 hp and 900 Nm (664 lb-ft), so it's always had the power to party, and Millen found himself enjoying the niceties of a well-appointed road car where some of the harsher race cars in the field were suffering in the bumpy bits.
"You know, it's a funny thing," he said, in an interview at the top of the hill, "I've watched a number of the top level pro drivers in pure-built race cars complaining all week about the upper section being really rough and quite dangerous, with all the braking bumps and corner bumps. I have to say, I've just been sipping the Earl Grey with a pinky finger out. This thing just pushes through the bumps really well. It has active roll control, so it actually cambers the car into the corners."
The previous production car record also belonged to Bentley and Millen, who ran the brand's Bentayaga SUV up the hill just eight seconds slower than the Continental back in 2018. Certainly, there seems to be an opportunity for other brands to jump in and get involved, and make Pikes Peak a bit of an American Nurburgring challenge, because there's no way this great cushy thing is the fastest production car on the road.
Check out a video of Millen's pinky-out run below, including an interview.
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