Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak

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As 2011 winds down, I’ve been going through some of my folders of old material that I wanted to publish earlier this year, but for some reason or another the article didn’t grace the front page of Asphalt & Rubber. One such story was the fastest Triumph ever to run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), which in 2011 was a Triumph Speed Triple raced by professional flat track star Joe Kopp.

If I were to say politics were at play with Kopp campaigning the Team Latus Triumph Speed Triple in the exhibition class of the PPIHC (along with Chip Yate’s electric superbike), then surely the metaphor would extend to the redrawing of the district lines at Pikes Peak, and may or may not have had something to do with the Ducati-dominated 1200cc class, where surely the Triumph properly belonged.

Read in between the lines as you will with that explanation of events, but at the end of the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Kopp, on his Triumph, was the overall second-fastest rider up The Mountain, winning the exhibition class in the process. Meanwhile Ducati, the official motorcycle of PPIHC, maintained its 1-3 double podium in the 1200cc class, which was lead by rookie rider, and A&R hetero-life partner Carlin Dunne.

Taking the pole-position, setting the overall course record for motorcycles, and winning Pikes Peak all in his rookie debut, Dunne’s performance on the Ducati Santa Barbara’s Multistrada 1200 floor demo was nothing short of impressive, and in the process, the Californian dashed Kopp’s hopes of being the fastest man on two wheels at Pikes Peak.

Making his ascent also in record-breaking time (11:26.530 to be exact), though unfortunately slower than Dunne’s (11:11.329), I found Kopp’s bike after the race throwing a temper-tantrum as fluid leaked from its radiators back in the pit lane. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Speed Triples, so understand when I say that the Team Latus machine was a thing of beauty, even when propped-up against an evergreen with fluids dripping out of it.

For 2012, Pikes Peak will be paved all the way to the course’s summit, and the motorcycle portion of the race will be under new race direction (ending the almost legendary refereeing of the event by Sonny Anderson & Bill Brokaw).

I haven’t heard yet how the motorcycle division will be handled and divisioned, though there have been serious concerns floating around about having superbikes running the course now that it is fully-paved. One thing is for certain though, expect to see Kopp back at Pikes Peak, with Carlin Dunne and the rest of the Ducati squad firmly in his sights.

Video: Triumph (YouTube) via My Life at Speed; Photos: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0