Romain Dumas unveils 2017 Pikes Peak challenger

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Romain Dumas has unveiled the Norma MXX RD Limited which he is to enter in this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Following several development sessions in France, the prototype will be entered by Dumas at the June 25 event.

For his fifth participation in search for his third overall victory at Pikes Peak, Dumas began a small revolution with support from Norbert Santos, head of Norma. Although the Norma MXX RD Limited shares the same carbon monocoque from the 2016-winning M20, several elements have evolved in the last 12 months. Dumas’ target for the event is realising a faster time than last year 8:51.445, which is the second quickest of all time. Dumas has outlined that he will be attempting to get even closer to the outright record held by Sébastien Loeb at 8:13.878 – who completed the 12.4 miles at an incredible speed of 90.3 mph.

Dumas and Norma have looked to improve on every parameter possible. The biggest changes to the car are based in the aero package, with the MXX RD featuring all-new bodywork. With a front splitter measuring 7.5 feet and impressive overhangs, the MXX RD Limited has gained higher levels of downforce and finesse, benefitting from improved overall efficiency. This result is the fruit of work performed by former members of the Formula Student team Rennteam Uni Stuttgart – Simon Eser, Max Knorr, Fabian Kopp, Sébastien Sorne and Christian Weber – who were in charge of the aero design study for the new package. Computational fluid dynamics played a primary role with several solutions evaluated and refined over the course of several months.

Under the bodywork, the mechanical components have also been significantly modified. The all-wheel drive system has been retained and the braking system has been completely revised with a switch to carbon, and a new disc/caliper/pad package. Other parts have been specifically made for Pikes Peak, such as wheel hubs by Poly Shape.

Intensive work has been done to improve mechanical grip, as RD Limited has continued its long-standing relationship with PKM Consulting. And finally, the tire provider has changed, as a close partnership with Michelin will provide the rubber for those more imposing wheels. The four-cylinder 2.0-liter Honda will still power the French prototype, but is now equipped with a new turbo and intercooler.

“We’ve looked to improve everything,” explains Dumas. “Following the race last year, we made a long list with Norbert Santos, and we’ve worked on each of these points, one after the other. The aero is an important parameter, as well as braking, which we’ve changed. Tires were also one of our priorities. In the end, the first tests were good. The car is a little heavier, but that’s because of it’s beefed up nature: it’s wider, longer, better…everything! It was necessary in order to be quicker. The car is more efficient, there’s no doubt. It’s faster, but also easier to drive. It’s important to have confidence when driving at a place like Pikes Peak. The development of the car went well and we progressed with each session, each time with specific objectives. The last test, actually on the mountain itself, will be big. We’ve put everything we have into making our ambitions possible.”

After initial tests carried out on an airfield, the Pôle Mécanique Alès-Cévennes and at Grand Sambuc circuit, the Norma MXX RD Limited will be tested once in Colorado, between the Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day and the week of the hill climb. Romain Dumas will return to the United States the day after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“We were thrilled to win at Pikes Peak in 2014 and 2016, but it’s always missed a little something. We’ve never been able to put everything together on race day,” added Dumas. “The involvement from Norma and all the members of the RD Limited team is again impressive. I’d like to thank everyone involved in this challenge: friends, partners, suppliers, and all those who believe in the project and who are aiming higher and bigger. There’s that human dimension that you can’t really measure but that makes everything possible.”

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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