After watching Chris Fillmore’s onboard lap at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, I told him I doubted that he and I are the same species.
After last year’s record-breaking victory aboard the KTM 1290 Super Duke, Fillmore returned to campaign KTM’s new 790 Duke. Fillmore set a new Middleweight record and finished third overall.
The onboard footage is terrifying. The tires struggling to find grip is audible as Fillmore is hard on the brakes heading into hairpin corners on the edge of the horizon. There’s no runoff. Heck, there’s no ground—just blue sky. I guess that means there’s literally only runoff.
And Fillmore really went for it.
“On one side the 790 is quite [a bit] easier to ride [than the 1290 Super Duke R],” Fillmore says. “It’s lighter, more nimble, and [has] less horsepower, and that in theory equals less speed at Pikes Peak than the 1290. But… It’s a race that I wanted to win—not only my class but the overall as well, so I needed to find speed, and the only place to do that is in the corners. So, as I didn't have the out-of-corner torque or top speed of the 1290 Super Duke R, I did my best to make up for it with the ability to carry more corner speed on the 790 Duke. It’s something the bike happens to do really well.”
There are a couple of moments in the video that are teeth-clenching, I-can-barely-watch kind of moments.
“I did miss a shift in one of the fast blind left-handers on the bottom section and then I grabbed two gears and had to shift back down one,” Fillmore admits. “The mountain got slick on race day. It was something we didn’t experience in any of the test runs. For sure, I had a few moments testing the limits of traction.
“I enjoy the challenge of Pikes Peak, figuring out how to go fast and learn something new. Watching the sun rise every morning for a week on top of a 14,000-foot mountain is pretty amazing too.”
All in a day’s work, in other words. Like I said: a different species.