Our partners at Motorsport.com had the very special opportunity to hang out with the Volkswagen Motorsport crew at Pikes Peak. At the time, it wasn't clear that the I.D. R Pikes Peak would shatter the EV record at the course and set a new overall fastest time there.
VW Motorsport started contemplating what to do next after deciding to leave the World Rally Championship in 2016. The automaker's bosses pushed the squad to do something with an electric vehicle. After some investigation, the competition team decided to make a return to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The famous course offered a spot to set a world record, and it was a chance to make up for a failed effort with a twin-engine GTI in 1987 – the same year that Walter Röhrl won the event in an Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2.
From an engineering perspective, Pikes Peak offers a special opportunity to engineers. The only major regulations at the event have to do with driver safety. The aerodynamics and powertrain are free to be whatever the team can create. VW Motorsport's team came up with quite a special machine to set a new overall record there.
Driver Romain Dumas was happy with the car, too. In a brief interview with Motorsport.com, he said on the podium that it was among the favourite machines of his career. That's high praise from someone with Le Mans victories in an Audi R15 TDI Plus and Porsche 919 Hybrid.
On June 24, Dumas climbed behind the wheel and became the first person ever to climb the 12.42-mile course below the eight-minute mark with a time of 7:57.148. Sebastien Loeb held the previous record of 8:13.878 in a radically modified Peugeot 208. To make Dumas' time even more impressive, he predicted that he could have gone even quicker.
“I had some fog and it was quite humid with some damp in the second section,” Dumas told Motorsport.com. “I’m happy with this, but we could have gone quicker if that middle sector had been dry.”