Before 2011, no driver had ascended Colorado's 14,110ft (4,300-metre) Pikes Peak in under 10 minutes. That year, the barrier dropped in no small part due to the completion of the route’s paving, which allowed drivers to maintain speed without worrying about gravel-facilitated slides towards oblivion. It was inconceivable that a driver – let alone a car – could make the trip in under nine minutes just two years later, but not all drivers are nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb, and not all cars are the purpose-built, 875-horsepower Peugeot Sport 208 T16.
For the otherwise moribund French automaker, which has seen its market share and profits eroded over the past five years, the hatchback’s 8 minute 13 second run up Pikes was more than just a bright spot in 2013. It was an incandescent meteor. For his part, Loeb proved that maintaining an abbreviated WRC race schedule had not blunted his ability to whip a rally car round a bend at jaw-slackening speeds.
Read more about the Peugeot Sport 208 T16 and Loeb’s record at TopGear.com.
Years from now, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E may be recalled as the racecar that changed racing forever. This single-seat battery-electric formula car – the fruit of collaboration between Spark Racing Technologies, Renault, McLaren Electronics Systems, Williams Advanced Engineering and Dallara – is the first car homologated for the inaugural season of the FIA’s Formula E race series. – Matthew Phenix