In 2013 the overall Motorcycle record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was smashed by a Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 prototype electric motorcycle electric motorcycle ridden Carlin Dunne. That same year the overall record was smashed by a gasoline powered car driven by Sebastien Loeb, overshadowing the breaking of the overall motorcycle record by an electric motorcycle. This year the Volkswagen I.D. R, an electric race car, has smashed the overall record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with a 7m 57.148s minutes record, beating the standing record by a full 16 seconds.
The gasoline powered world should have woken up in 2013 when the motorcycle record fell to an electric bike. Now, the wake-up call is repeated, with an electric car smashing the overall record.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is an annual race with a very long history, held on the mountain in Colorado known as Pikes Peak. It is a time trial race, meaning the drivers/riders are not competing against each other, but are competing against the clock. Each climbs a 20 kilometer route with 156 turns, to reach the top of Pikes Peak.
Electric vehicles have competed for several years, with increasingly better results every year.
One of the challenges faced was the requirement to be capable of fully recharging the vehicle in 20 minutes. This would be required if there were for some reason a need to rerun the race – this happens if weather or an accident blocks the road. The Volkswagen team developed a generator powered by glycerol.
All time record: Volkswagen makes history with the I.D. R Pikes Peak
- 7m 57.148s minutes – Volkswagen’s electric racing car sets a new overall record
- Romain Dumas betters Sébastien Loeb’s record by 16 seconds
- I.D. R Pikes Peak: the sporty forerunner to the new, fully-electric I.D. family
Volkswagen and the I.D. R Pikes Peak have made history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Driving the 500-kW (680 PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas (F) defeated a field including cars with conventional drivetrain technology. In doing so, he not only broke the previous record for electric vehicles, but also bettered Sébastien Loeb’s (F) all-time record from 2013 – by a full 16 seconds. Dumas’ new record of 7m 57.148s minutes is now top of the list of Pikes Peak champions, which includes such acclaimed drivers as Loeb, Walter Röhrl (D), Michèle Mouton (F), Stig Blomqvist (S), Nobuhiro Tajima (J) and also Rod Millen and his son Rhys (both NZ).
19.99 kilometres, 156 corners, just one attempt – and a successful one: Romain Dumas claimed his fourth overall victory at the iconic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which has now been held 96 times since 1916. With the I.D. R Pikes Peak, Volkswagen has created an extraordinary racing car, specifically tailored to the demands of the most famous of hill climbs: a combination of minimum weight, as much downforce as possible, and maximum power, designed to achieve the best possible performance. Including its battery cells, the I.D. R Pikes Peak weighs less than 1,100 kilograms. When evaluating performance, Volkswagen employed simulation software to calculate exactly how to achieve the optimum in energy demand and performance for the record attempt on Pikes Peak. In the matter of aerodynamics, the key was to compensate for the loss of downforce caused by the thin air on Pikes Peak. The result of this endeavour could be seen from afar: the flat, streamlined chassis and huge rear wing.
Volkswagen also struck out in a new direction when it came to charging technology – the goal being to charge the car as quickly as possible with minimum environmental impact. The time was defined by the regulations: In case of the race being suspended, it must be possible to completely charge the car in under 20 minutes. The electricity required was provided by generators at the foot of Pikes Peak. Glycerol, which in chemical terms is a sugar alcohol, was selected as the fuel. A by-product of the manufacture of biodiesel, for example, Glycerol combusts with virtually no harmful exhaust fumes or residues. Glycerol itself is non-toxic and is even permitted as an additive in the food and cosmetics industries.
A mere 250 days passed between the announcement and the start of the Pikes Peak project on 18 October 2017 and the record-breaking run on Pikes Peak on 24 June 2018. This was an extremely sporty remit for the development of a thoroughbred prototype, including innovative fully-electric drive technology, specific demands on the batteries, aerodynamics and chassis. This effort and the tireless work of the Volkswagen mechanics, engineers and many more employees in Wolfsburg, at the motorsport headquarters in Hannover and, last but not least, during the weeks of preparation in Colorado Springs, has now been rewarded with a new record on Pikes Peak.
Volkswagen has had some strong partners on its side for the record attempt on Pikes Peak, in the form of Volkswagen R, ANSYS, Michelin, Integral e-drive and OMP. With Volkswagen R, the I.D. R Pikes Peak received a sporting seal of approval from the outset, which it more than earned on its record-breaking run, if not before. ANSYS also made a vital contribution to the success of the project by providing support with the software simulations. Another key factor was tyre maker Michelin’s years of experience on Pikes Peak, which allowed them to provide tyre technology perfectly tailored to the demands of the hill climb. The I.D. R Pikes Peak’s E-engines, which together generated 500 kW (680 PS), were achieved in collaboration with partner Integral e-drive. OMP put the icing on the cake – for example, with the featherweight racing overall for Romain Dumas, which perfectly complemented the lightweight design philosophy of the I.D. R Pikes Peak.
Reactions from the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Romain Dumas (F), Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak #94
“Awesome! We exceeded even our own high expectations with that result. Since this week’s tests, we have known that it was possible to break the all-time record. For it to come off, everything had to come together perfectly – from the technology to the driver. And the weather had to play ball too. That everything ran so smoothly is an incredible feeling, and the new record on Pikes Peak is the icing on the cake. I still cannot believe that Volkswagen and my name are behind this incredible time. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most impressive car I have ever driven in competition. The electric drivetrain means that many things are different and I learned a lot during the project. The team did an indescribably meticulous, yet at the same time relaxed, job. Not only did we get the desired result, but the team spirit was also spot on. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of it.”
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“This is a fantastic day for Volkswagen and one, of which we are very proud. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most innovative and complex car ever developed by Volkswagen Motorsport. Every employee involved in the Pikes Peak project has constantly had to push their boundaries and show extreme commitment and dedication. Without this, it would not have been possible to repeatedly overcome new challenges and come up with new solutions. It should actually be impossible to achieve all that and especially the all-time record in such a short time, but our team pulled it off thanks to their passion and commitment. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on the project and showed such fantastic team spirit.”
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