Unplugged Performance Tesla Model 3 sets record ahead of Pikes Peak attempt

Tesla Model 3 equipped with Unplugged Performance's Ascension R package. (Credit: Unplugged Performance)

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is already a track weapon straight out of the factory. With Track Mode, a stock Model 3 Performance could completely dominate high performance sedans on the closed circuit. But with special parts that are designed to increase the vehicle’s track capability even further, the Model 3 Performance becomes something that is downright frightening. 

Around two weeks ago, Tesla aftermarket specialist and tuning house Unplugged Performance announced its entry to the esteemed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with legendary racer driver Randy Pobst behind the wheel. Pobst is the perfect driver for such an event, considering that he was directly involved with Tesla’s creation of the Model 3 Performance’s Track Mode. With Pobst behind the wheel, Unplugged Performance’s Model 3 has the potential to complete the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and possibly surprise a number of critics along the way. 

Interestingly enough, the Unplugged Performance team did not have a car for the event when it made its Pikes Peak Hill Climb announcement. Such a vehicle was only picked up on the night of July 17, and later equipped with the company’s Ascension R package. Unplugged Performance’s Ascension R kit made its debut with Tesla owner enthusiast Erik Strait’s Model 3, which was sent to Japan earlier this year. Strait’s vehicle, the first of the company’s Ascension R units, set records in Japan during its brief stay in the country. 

Tesla Model 3 equipped with Unplugged Performance’s Ascension R package. (Credit: Unplugged Performance)

The Model 3 picked up by the Unplugged Performance team on July 17 would become the company’s second Ascension R unit. The modification of the Model 3 Performance would begin on July 20 and end on Fright night, July 24. With the car completed, the team drove over to Buttonwillow on Autopilot to ensure that the trip was as safe as possible. At around 2 a.m. on July 25, the Model 3 Ascension R took its first charge. Interestingly enough, July 25 also happened to be the day of TeslaCorsa 9, an event where Tesla owners get together for a day on the track. 

In a message to Teslarati, the Unplugged Performance team stated that they did not really expect the freshly modded Model 3 to set new records right out of the bat. The vehicle’s driver, Oscar Jackson Jr., after all, has never driven a Tesla prior to the event. Jackson was used to racing vehicles like the Porsche GT3 RS, but he did not have any experience with high performance EVs stepping into the Model 3. It was then surprising to see that before lunchtime, Unplugged Performance’s Model 3 Ascension R broke the record for fastest production Tesla on street tires on the Buttonwillow track, running a 1:54.266 on 200 tread wear tires. 

What was even more interesting was that later during the day, the Model 3 recorded an even more impressive lap despite its battery being halved. The team equipped the Model 3 with Pirelli slicks, and the vehicle ended up running a 1:53.277 lap despite a 50% state of charge. In a statement following his experience, Jackson, noted that he was incredibly impressed with the Tesla Model 3. According to the racer, the Model 3 was already a great car from the factory, but with an additional boost from Unplugged Performance’s parts, the vehicle had the potential to rival even the best track weapons available today. 

Tesla Model 3 equipped with Unplugged Performance’s Ascension R package. (Credit: Unplugged Performance)

“It was a pretty mind blowing experience to have this be my first time driving a Tesla. Despite it being a shakedown day for Unplugged’s latest build, the car was surprisingly well sorted and it inspired immediate confidence. The brakes in particular were a big surprise given that the car is a lot heavier than what I’m used to racing with. Unplugged’s “BFB” carbon ceramic kit allowed me to brake deep into the corner and I found myself using braking points comparable to what I use when racing the Porsche GT3 RS and spec Miatas! 

“The car was already really well prepared so we did not need to change much. The suspension was great off the bat and really well dialed-in. As the day progressed, we simply raised the rear up a little and added a bit more compression. Since the car was factory power and factory traction control I found myself being interrupted by the car’s nannies… Overall the car is a rocket ship (no SpaceX pun intended)! If I had more time with it I’m certain I can go a lot faster. I’m looking forward to my next time behind the wheel of it!” he said. 

Watch a rather entertaining run of Unplugged Performance’s Model 3 Ascension R in the video below. 

Unplugged Performance Tesla Model 3 sets record ahead of Pikes Peak attempt
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