Nissan Leaf wins its division in Pike's Peak race

Nissan put a stock Leaf into the new electric division for the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb, and won against one other competitor.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf competes on the Pikes Peak hill climb course. Nissan

Editors' note: This article has been edited to include new information about the purpose-built Summit HER-02 electric car, and to clarify the Nissan Leaf's division.

The Nissan Leaf can add another trophy to its shelf full of awards, this one for a successful run in the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb. The race was held on Sunday, June 26.

The Leaf entered by Nissan was near stock, with no changes to the drive train. Required safety equipment was added to the cabin, and Nissan swapped the standard low rolling resistance tires for some a little more grippy. One of the most important pieces of equipment was its driver, veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord.

However, the Leaf competed in the production electric car division, in which it was the only competitor. Another electric car, the purpose-built Yokohama-sponsored Summit racing HER-02, beat the Leaf's time and became the fastest electric vehicle to tackle finish the hill climb event.

Despite the lack of competition, the mountain course itself is grueling, with 156 turns over 12.42 miles, and a climb of 4,700 feet. The Leaf turned in a time of 14 minutes and 33 seconds, while the Summit HER-02 came in at 12 minutes, 20 seconds. The all-time record of 9 minutes and 51 seconds was set in this year's event by Monster Racing's Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special, competing in the Unlimited division.

Nissan pointed out that, unlike the gas engine cars competing in the different divisions, the Leaf's electric motor and batteries were unaffected by the thin atmosphere at the upper third of the course.