• Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring

The Pikes Peak-winning I.D.R. will be modified for this record attempt

Records are meant to be broken, right? Well, the outright lap record at the Nurburgring stood for over three decades before Porsche came back to better it this summer. Now, it seems that the record might fall again, sooner than anyone expected, and in the hands of Volkswagen no less. The German manufacturer plans to obliterate the existing record for electric cars with the already impressive I.D.R., but there might be enough juice in the electric prototype to top the overall leaderboard in the process.

The outright record around the northern loop of the Nurburgring was something of a staple in motorsport. For over 30 years, the 6:11.130 lap time set by Germany’s Stefan Bellof was unbeaten. That is, until this summer when Porsche brought their 919 on steroids and, with Timo Bernhard behind the wheel, sliced the fastest lap time by almost a minute. It seems, now, that the new record won’t last for other three-and-a-half decades as the car that proved untouchable at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hillclimb event will take on the Nurburgring next May.

Will Porsche and VW start fighting over who’s the fastest around the ’Ring?

Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring
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Years ago, it seemed almost tabu to talk about someone ever trying to take the outright lap record at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife away from Stefan Bellof and his Porsche 956. Then, this year, when Porsche returned to the hallowed grounds in the Eiffel Mountains to better the time, during their year-long celebrations that marked the 70th anniversary of the brand, it seemed natural. What’s unexpected is that a competitor seems to be rising to topple Porsche’s dominance at the top of the time charts.

Volkswagen, arguably the most important part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group (VAG), is pushing for electrification like almost no other European brand.

Part of its multi-fangled plan is to prove the electric technology in racing.

For this purpose, a unique prototype was built that was christened I.D.R. - to link it with the I.D. family of EVs.

Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring
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The I.D.R.’s original purpose was to take on the daunting 12.42-mile Pikes Peak Hillclimb course and smash the existing record that was set back in 2013 by 9-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb. The Frenchman set an 8:13.878 benchmark time aboard an 875 horsepower Peugeot 208 T16. Volkswagen enlisted the help of Romain Dumas, the overall Pikes Peak winner in 2016 and 2017, and, together, the German manufacturer was successful in its attempt to put EVs on the map at the most important automotive hillclimbing event in the world. Dumas’ time this year?

A blistering 7:57.15. Volkswagen continued by being the fastest in the high-speed shootout at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Now, the I.D.R. is slated to go through some significant changes if Volkswagen wants their racing EV to survive even a lap around the 12.94-mile-long road course. In its Hillclimb spec, the I.D.R. developed 671 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, being able to accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in just 2.25 seconds. Top speed was limited by the huge amounts of downforce to just 150 mph. It was all still very impressive considering the car weighed around 2,400 pounds.

For the ’Ring, the I.D.R. will certainly feature a less aggressive aerodynamic package as the track that also hosts the 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race has some long straights like the monster Dottinger Hohe. The two inter-linked lithium-ion battery packs located next to the driver on either side are set to stay put although the electric drivetrain will have to be modified for a different power band and torque band. The suspension and damping will also have to be altered.

Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring Exterior
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Autocar reports that Volkswagen already rented the Nurburgring-Nordschleife for a number of test sessions in May of next year, but the exact time of the record runs depends on how the weather will behave. Those who know the Nordschleife will tell you that, up there, the weather is always unpredictable. As an example, the 2016 edition of the 24-hour race - that took place in late May - was hit by a vicious hailstorm that affected one part of the track while other areas remained bone dry.

Volkswagen is already doing virtual simulations to see how the I.D.R. compares to their number 1 rival: the NIO EP9 which currently holds the record for electric cars that VW is officially after.

The NIO lapped the ’Green Hell’ in just 6:45.900 in 2017 thanks to its four electric motors that generate a total of 1,341 horsepower. But the NIO is a road-legal automobile while the Volkswagen isn’t and will never be.

That’s why, already, the simulations show that "we’ve already seen lap times below 5min 30sec in the simulator,” an insider with knowledge of Volkswagen Motorsport’s Nürburgring plans told Autocar. He added that "there’s more to come, we’re sure". To put things into perspective, Timo Bernhard’s lap aboard the 919 Evo was 5:19.55 at an average speed of 145.3 mph. We don’t yet know if Dumas, who will drive the I.D.R. next May and who has partnered with Bernhard for a few Nurburgring 24-hour overall wins, will push for a sub 5:19 lap time and, ultimately, it might be a board decision. Does VAG want an inter-brand war over who’s quickest around the ’Ring? After all, the VAG group holds most of the relevant production car records there with either Porsche or Lamborghini.

Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring Exterior
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What’s certain is that VW booked the track, the driver and that the car will be modified so we’ll have a new fastest electric car around the northern loop. If this same car will rewrite the outright record remains to be seen. Also, a return to Pikes Peak isn’t on the cards, so a shift to smashing circuit lap records seems like a natural move for VW and their I.D.R.

Further Reading

Volkswagen wants the electric lap record at the Nurburgring Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak.

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak Breaks Electric Record at Goodwood FOS
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Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak Breaks Electric Record at Goodwood FOS

Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak Racer Shatter the Pikes Peak Time Attack Record
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Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak Racer Shatter the Pikes Peak Time Attack Record

Nio EP9 Sets EV Lap Record At The Nurburgring
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NIO EP9 EV lap record at the ’Ring

The Porsche 919 Just Smashed the 35-Year-Old Nurburgring Lap Record by 51 Seconds
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Porsche smashes 35-year-old ’Ring lap record

Source: Autocar

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
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
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