Volkswagen ID.R completes 'Heaven's Gate' record run in China

Electric Volkswagen ID.R racer makes record ascent of Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road

Fresh from breaking the Goodwood Hillclimb record earlier this year, the electric Volkswagen ID.R has completed its next challenge, ascending the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China.

Located over 900 miles southwest of Beijing, the route runs for 10 kilometres and and incorporates 99 hairpins, as well as covering an altitude gain of 1,200 metres.

Driver Romain Dumas, who has also been at the wheel for the ID.R's previous record attempts at Pikes Peak, the Nurburgring and Goodwood (see below) completed the course in seven minutes, 38.585 seconds.

After the run, Dumas said: "I will certainly remember this forever as my most spectacular outing... The little information and testing we had beforehand made it a huge challenge.

"The road is incredibly narrow and winding, but the drive was unbelievable fun with the electric power of the ID.R. The huge torque was a big advantage on the short straights, while the aerodynamics provided additional traction in the fast sections."

The road to 'Heaven's Gate' is "regarded as one of the most demanding mountain roads in the world," according to Volkswagen. There was no existing record, as the course isn't accessible to the public, but the company invited competitors to set a virtual benchmark on a simulator prior to the ID.R's run.

 

Volkswagen ID.R Goodwood record

In July, the ID.R set a new benchmark of 39.9 seconds at the Goodwood Hillclimb, bettering its practice time of 41.1 seconds on the 1.16-mile course. The latter run had broken the previous best of 41.6 seconds – set by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren Formula 1 car – that had stood for 20 years.

“I am very proud to have set the all-time record," said Dumas afterwards. "The short hillclimb is a very special challenge. Because the track is so short, I could not afford to make even the slightest mistake, and every aspect of the fine-tuning of the ID.R had to be perfect. That was particularly challenging, as we were not able to test on the route beforehand.”

Rain prevented the ID.R from going even quicker on the final timed shootout, although its last run of 42.32 seconds was more than enough to claim victory at the Festival of Speed's showpiece event.

The team behind the ID.R modified the vehicle beforehand, greatly reducing the size of the lithium-ion battery to reflect the length of the course.

Volkswagen ID.R Nurburgring record

In June, the ID.R annihilated the electric-car lap record at the Nurburgring, with Dumas lowering the benchmark to a staggering 6m 5.366s.

On that occasion, the ID.R chopped 40 seconds off the previous record, set by Peter Dumbreck in the NIO EP9 in 2017. The ID.R – which won 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where it also set a course record – achieved an average speed of 129mph around the 12.9-mile Nordschleife.

The electric racer had new aerodynamic package ahead of its assault on the Nurburgring. The changes allowed the ID.R to reach a higher top speed than it was cable of at Pikes Peak, with the car hitting around 168mph on the long, straight sections of the German track.

The ID.R is powered by two electric motors and produces around 671bhp, generating significant downforce thanks to its enormous rear wing. The 0-62mph sprint is believed to take around 2.25 seconds and the car weighs less than 1,100kg, even with driver Romain Dumas strapped into the driver's seat."

Volkswagen ID.R Pikes Peak record

The ID.R was originally designed to set the record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: it did so in some style in 2018, smashing the old record by a whopping 16.73 seconds with a time of 7m 57.148s. It became the first car to complete the 12.42-mile course in under eight minutes.

As well as gaining 1,440 metres of altitude between the start and finish lines, the ID.R had to negotiate damp conditions and restricted visibility in some sections, raising the question of how much faster it could have gone in ideal weather.

Prior to the ID.R, the record at Pikes Peak was held by the Peugeot 208 T16, with nine-time World Rally Championship winner Sebastien Loeb setting a time of 8m 13.878s in 2013.