News 2002

Per Eklund second at the British Rallycross GP (27-10-2002)
British Rallycross Grand Prix (A Final)  (Written by Peter Stott)

This was the event that everyone had come for. Here was the showdown! Doran was on pole, with Haffey and Hansen. The second row was made up of Jernberg and Gollop. The final row consisted of Eklund, Mcluskey and the B final winner Lawrence Gibson. 

As the lights turned green Hansen seemed to make the best start from the outside, but it was to no avail as both Haffey and Doran managed to outbrake him. Haffey lead through the first turn from Doran, who slid wide. Hansen immediately pounced going through to second place. As they entered Hawthorns, Hansen took the corner very tentatively, leaving a big gap up the inside. Doran pounced and as they approached the chicane they were door handle, to door handle. Neither one of them giving a inch. Something had to give, but it didnít. Heavier contact was made as Dorans RS200 momentarily left the ground in a high-speed incident. Both cars went flying of into the barriers resulting in heavy damage to the front end of Hansenís car. Doran managed to rejoin last. This let Haffey open up a big gap over Eklund (despite Haffey nearly losing control through the chicane). Doran clearly had done a lot of damage to both sides of the car and went straight on into the gravel at the start of lap two as the car had a puncture. 
There were also problems for the Will Gollop, his car expiring also at the start of the second lap. Despite Eklunds best efforts, Haffey continued to pull away winning by a very big margin. Eklund (using the same Kumho tyres as Jernberg) finished second just ahead of Jernberg, who completed the podium. Mcluskey fended off Gibson to finish fifth. 

Congratulations go to John Haffey on his tremendous success. This underlines just how competitive the British Championship is. A lot of people rate Haffey very highly and has shown that he is up there with Europes best. Lets hope he will move onto the European series. After the event, Pat Doran got a licence endorsement from the officials for his incident with Hansen. This was a little unfair, as Hansen did leave a rather large gap for Doran to pass going into the chicane. In my eyes it should be deemed as a racing incident as neither wanted to back down.

This concluded a superb event at the Croft Circuit and welcome return off top International rallycross to England. Next years event will hopefully be even bigger.

Per Eklund wins Pikes Peak 2002!(01 July 2002)

Per Eklund's Saab 9-3 Viggen takes Unlimited Class Victory in the 80th Running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Swedish rallycross racer Per Eklund piloted the most powerful modified Saab ever -- an all-wheel-drive 750-hp Saab 9-3 Viggen -- to victory in the Unlimited Class. Eklund clocked the second-fastest overall time of the day in the 80th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Saturday, June 29th.

Per Eklund at Pikes Peak 2002 Per Eklund at Pikes Peak 2002

Colorado Springs, CO - Former European Rallycross champion Per Eklund traveled from Sweden to tackle the 12.4-mile pavement and gravel course up Pikes Peak to capture the checkered flag and the victory at 14,100 feet. He claimed his second class victory in three Pikes Peak visits with a personal best time of 11:13.24, bettering his 2000 Pikes Peak Open Class winning time by over 8 seconds. Eklund and his Saab's performance defeated the second place Unlimited Class entry and long-time Swedish rival Stig Blomqvist by over 34 seconds (11:47.45). This challenging course features 156 turns and no guardrails.

"The road surface was very slippery this year and at times it felt like I was driving on ice, but the Saab engine and rest of the drivetrain performed perfectly," said Eklund. - In fact, the engine coolant and turbo intercooler temperatures were so much lower than we expected that we could have probably run another .5 bar of boost pressure (over 7 psi) and run quicker with a lot more horsepower."

The last four miles of the treacherous course were particularly attention-grabbing for Eklund as his car's brake fluid boiled and the pedal went to the floor. "I guess we paid so much attention to gaining improved downforce by adding the front wings to the car this year that we took away needed airflow to cool the front brakes. It's tough enough driving this mountain with brakes." Eklund said. "I'd rather not have to drive up here again without them, but everything worked out fantastic."

For this year's entry in the Unlimited Class, Eklund and his team fine-tuned the same race car that tackled the mountain the two previous races. It's the most powerful Saab ever -- an all-wheel-drive 9-3 Viggen with a Saab 2.0-liter engine that delivers 750 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 545 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,500 rpm. With this amount of power, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed transmission, the 9-3 Viggen's acceleration is in the Formula One class: 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds. Running in the Unlimited Class this year, Eklund's team was able to add front and rear wings and other aerodynamic aids to better harness the Saab engine's prodigious power and transfer it to the tarmac and gravel road surface. The car is geared for a top speed of 155 mph. The vehicle is constructed on a sturdy tubular frame that gives both high torsional stiffness and good crash protection.

Eklund has been competing in rallies, rallycross and other races since the early 1960s, most often behind the wheel of a Saab. Throughout the 1970s, Eklund was one of Saab's most successful factory drivers, and won the 1976 Swedish Rally in a Saab 96. In an impressive rookie performance, he won the open class at Pikes Peak in 2000 with a class-record-setting time of 11:21.38, the second fastest overall time of the day.

History of the Race to the Clouds

The first automobile to make it to the top of Colorado's Pikes Peak was a Locomobile Steamer in 1901. It took nine hours to drive, and push, the vehicle to the top. The first race was held in 1916 and the fastest time was 18 minutes, 24 seconds. The current race record is 10 minutes, 4.06 seconds set in 1994 by Pikes Peak veteran racer Rod Millen.

Technical specifications of Per Eklund's Pikes Peak Saab 9-3 Viggen

- Original Saab engine block and cylinder head. Engine tuned by Trollspeed of Trollhattan, Sweden. Longitudinally mounted, four-cylinder, 16-valve with twin overhead camshafts
- Garrett turbocharger with intercooler (3.0 bar or 42.8 psi at sea level)
- Displacement: 2.0 liters
- Bore/stroke: 92/77 mm
- Compression ratio: 9.0:1

HP Rating: 750 HP at 8,000 rpm

Peak torque: 545 lb.-ft. at 6,500 rpm

Transmission: Four-wheel drive with programmable active differentials and
six-speed Prodrive gearbox

Weight: 2,090 lbs.

0 - 60 mph: 2.3 seconds

Top speed: 155 mph