The 98th running of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is going down one month from Thursday, and Acura just pulled the covers off of its competitors for the event. Instead of the MDX and RDX racers that the automaker has fielded for the last couple of years, it will be attacking the hill with a pair of new TLX Type-A sedans.
Of course, the team’s NSX running in the Time Attack class will return for a third year aiming to break records. And based on the entry list, it looks like the big nasty Real Time Racing TLX GT car that Peter Cunningham drove to third overall last year is making its return in the hands of racer Bret Curtis.
Acura’s Pikes Peak racing program is extremely interesting, as the company’s R&D department builds and prepares the race cars, and then races them. That’s right, Acura doesn’t hire hot-shoes to push their cars up the hill. The engineers who work on these things every day are the very same dudes who race them. Acura engineers currently hold the front-wheel-drive and hybrid record times up the hill, and semi-retired pro-racer Cunningham owns the Time Attack class record.
Both of the TLX race cars entered will be racing in the exhibition class with two different states of tune and downforce, but that’s about where the similarities end.
The more stock looking of the two features a performance tune on factory drivetrain components. A set of performance brake pads in the stock brake system helps it stop. A few suspension tweaks help it corner. An 18" set of HRE wheels and Pirelli race rubber have the rolling stock covered. That’s about it. It’s by and large a stock TLX, and it’ll be interesting to see where it places in the field next month.
The more race-ready looking TLX of the two is definitely going to be faster at Pikes Peak. Not just because it sits a little lower and has a big wing, but those will certainly help. This one gets a larger turbocharger and intercooler for a power boost. It’ll also get a Brembo braking package cribbed from the upcoming TLX Type-S and high-performance brake pads. Acura doesn’t say exactly what is different about the car’s suspension, but I would guess it’s got race-tuned coilovers, and unique SH-AWD system tuning for the race. Garnish with a set of HRE wheels and Pirelli racing slicks, serve warm.
The faster of the two will be driven by engineer Jordan Guitar, who has raced at the mountain twice before in an RDX and an MDX. The more stock of the two TLX will be entered by Justin Lumbard, who is a rookie competitor at Pikes Peak but has been an engineer on the team for a handful of years.
James Robinson will again field his highly modified NSX in the Time Attack class. Robinson will be looking for redemption in 2020, following a poor showing in 2019 which saw him sitting at the starting line for several minutes as the car gridded ahead of him re-started its run twice. In the time he sat on the starting line, his tires lost their pre-installed heat, and the engine compartment heat soaked, losing precious horsepower at an already altitude impaired course.
Robinson’s competition in the Time Attack class looks pretty good. Aside from a trio of Porsches—David Donohue and David Donner in a pair of GT2 RS Clubsports, and Jeff Zwart in a 935—there really isn’t anything knocking on the 10-minute door like his NSX does.
It’ll be interesting to see how these new TLX sedans do at the hill. I know I’d like to give the faster of the two a go. That thing looks like a true ripper.
And as a special surprise, Acura will be pacing the field with a prototype of the new 3-liter turbo V6 TLX Type-S.