Practicing for the race on June 26, Chip Yates put in his first runs up Pikes Peak this weekend. “I was leaned over dragging my knee at more than 100mph at Bottomless Pit corner, with a 3,000 foot dropoff on my left and a giant snowbank on my right,” says Chip. “This has to be the most extreme racing spectacle in the United States.” This is his first visit to the mountain, but riding his 240bhp, 400lb/ft electric superbike, Chip still placed seventh out of 33 riders in practice.
“I’m extremely pleased with how well the bike performed this weekend right out of the box and this test gave us the invaluable chance to meet everyone and start a dialogue with the mountain based on respect, humility and preparation,” describes Chip. “As extreme and majestic as the 14,110 foot mountain is however, I was even more struck by the quality and camaraderie of the people involved. Not only were we treated wonderfully by Race Director Phil Layton and his team despite being complete rookies with an unproven Pikes Peak bike, but on Saturday when I tucked the front tire on a white line and had a little crash, none other than Alexander Smith (Ducati factory rider and son of legend Malcolm Smith) pulled over on the course to help me lift my 585 lbs superbike out of a ditch. Shortly thereafter, I was warmly welcomed by Alex’s Ducati teammate and 6-time Pikes Peak winner and hillclimb legend Greg Tracy.”
“The mountain demands respect, which I believe can be paid in two ways: 1) caution, or 2) extreme preparedness. Some choose to proceed slowly and cautiously, which is totally valid. I have chosen to show my respect for the mountain by spending 12 hours a day for 3 months learning the course and preparing for this epic adventure. I respect the mountain by bringing my “A” game and doing my homework. If I crash, it’s not out of cockiness or a lack of respect, it’s because I brought my “A” game to the mountain and the mountain is showing me areas for future improvement.”
“The key to approaching Pikes Peak seems to be that a racer should be humble and expect the unexpected. Competitors have been exposed to rainstorms, hail, snow, wind, fog, animals, spectators, loose terrible dirt, grippy awesome dirt, heat, cold and everything in-between. With all the factors at play, combined with how I want to ride, I believe there is a significant chance of crashing or otherwise not finishing this year and I accept that. I plan to race to the bikes potential rather than ride up just to get a finish. This is a learning year for us and we are here to build relationships, learn about the mountain course, and prepare ourselves to be a serious factor in the results once the entire road is paved either in 2012 or 2013. That being said, if things go our way and if the mountain agrees, I believe we could still surprise a lot of people on Sunday, June 26th!”
“The bike is incredible and very well suited for an epic event like Pikes Peak. It turns well and makes 240 horsepower at sea level and 240 horsepower at the 14,110 foot summit. I also have 400 ft/lbs of torque available the instant I open the throttle, which was a huge benefit when I was exiting the 156 corners during practice. The batteries on-board can last the full duration of the 12.4 mile race making full power, but at 585 lbs, the bike is too heavy for me to pick up by myself if I should crash during the race – for that I will need help from the fans!”