This is still epic to look at

This summer, Volkswagen conquered the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race with their fantastic I.D. R prototype, which was driven by Romain Dumas up the mountain in a record time of 7:57.148, 16 seconds under Sebastien Loeb’s 5-year-old record.

Motorsport is still a relevant marketing tool and battle-scarred Volkswagen decided the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the perfect place to showcase its electric technology. The race, which has been going since 1916, sees competitors climb up the 12.42-mile-long course all the way to 14,000 feet. Nowadays, there’s no more dirt at Pikes Peak, but that doesn’t make the challenge itself any less daunting.

The Full Story

Pikes Peak is the - sometimes not-so-welcoming - host of the most famous hill climb event in the world. Over the years many famous names from the world of motorsport took on the challenge of racing at Pikes Peak. We all remember Michele Mouton’s run in the AWD Audi Quattro S1 with its sizzling turbos or Ari Vatanen’s one-hand-on-the-wheel antics a few years later in a ludicrous Peugeot. More recently, Nobuhiro Tajima ruled on the mountain, but the most recent record was set in 2013 by Sebastien Loeb.

Volkswagen's initial plans of competing at Pikes Peak did not include targeting the fastest time ever. Instead, Volkswagen wanted to beat Rhys Millen's 2015 time which was the fastest for an electric car.

That’s because, of course, the I.D. R was an electric prototype built with some input from Porsche’s LMP1 engineers to show off the technology that will trickle down to the I.D. lineup of EVs that will be launched by Volkswagen.

The German manufacturer built the car from the ground up in just 250 days, but problems during testing meant that nobody was quite sure how it will fair at Pikes Peak. The car, with all of its 680-horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque isn’t particularly light at 2,425 pounds, but it has huge grip and massive out-of-corner acceleration. Its 0-62 mph time is less than 2.5 seconds.

Take a Look Back at VW's Record-Breaking Run Up Pikes Peak: Video
- image 798848
The car uses two electric motors, one on the front and one on the rear axle, while the batteries are located behind and next to the driver.

Talking about the driver, he was no stranger to Pikes Peak. Three-time winner Romain Dumas (a Le Mans winner as well) was elected for the job and he said it wasn’t easy to drive the car. Not necessarily because of lack of grip, huge bespoke Michelins and carefully developed underbody aero coupled with the mother and father of rear wings taking care of that, but because the car doesn’t give you the usual signals: it doesn’t have gears, it doesn’t make any noise, so all you have to do is guide yourself by what you see.

Luckily, everything worked out just fine for Volkswagen and Dumas on June 24th. The snow only came a few hours after the one and only timed run so the Frenchman had a dry course to tackle. Still, we’re talking about 156 corners and a 4,720 vertical-foot climb, Dumas admitting that there was one hair-raising moment when he almost hit the brakes too late for a hairpin. Otherwise, it was a faultless run which is how it looked. The eye-wateringly fast 7:57.148 time blew Loeb’s run to smithereens and may pave the way to an EV prototype war at Pikes Peak in the future. What’s certain is that Romain’s run makes for great viewing and hearing him talk about it all offers some insight into this monstrous undertaking.

What do you think? Will the Pikes Peak record be bettered next June or will it take many years for Romain Dumas’ effort to be toppled? He himself wasn’t able to go faster than Loeb in 2016 or 2017 when he drove gas-powered Norma prototypes so it might just take the involvement of another automotive giant to change things again.

Further Reading

Take a Look Back at VW's Record-Breaking Run Up Pikes Peak: Video Exterior
- image 781520

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak.

2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – Preview
- image 680678

What You Need To Know About The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert -
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: