Volkswagen ID. R: 'Road to Heaven' record attempt announced

The electric Volkswagen ID. R race car will take on the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China after its Nurburgring run in September

The Volkswagen ID. R – the electric race car custom-built to win the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – will attempt to set another record at the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in September 2019.

Located over 900 miles southwest of Beijing, the 11km route (see below) features 99 corners and an altitude gain of 1,200m.

There is no existing record, as the course isn't accessible to the public, so Volkswagen will invite competitors to set a virtual benchmark on a simulator prior to the ID. R's run.

“So far, I only know the road from photos and a few videos,” said driver Romain Dumas, who'll pilot the ID R. along the 'Road to Heaven'. “The surrounding area is remarkable, like a film set. The route is very winding, extremely narrow in places, and very uneven. It is certainly going to be a special experience. I am looking forward to this new challenge.”

Prior to its run in China, the ID. R will also attempt to break the lap record at the Nurburgring in Germany.

The existing record at the Nordschleife for an electric car was set by the NIO EP9 in 2017, registering a time of 6m 45.900s and an average speed of almost 115mph around the notorious 12.9-mile circuit.

“After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nurburgring Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID. R,” said Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets. “A lap record on the Nordschleife is a great accolade for any car, whether a race car or a production car.”

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 Dumas strapped into the driver's seat.

“The thought of driving the ID. R on the Nordschleife is already enough to give me goosebumps,” said Dumas, who also guided the car to the Pikes Peak record. “I know the track very well, but the ID. R will be a completely different challenge, with its extreme acceleration and huge cornering speeds. I can hardly wait for the first tests. Breaking the existing electric record will certainly not be a stroll in the park.”

Volkswagen says the ID. R will undergo an intensive period of testing in the build-up to its lap record attempt, with aerodynamic changes the main priority given the vast difference in altitude: the Pikes Peak course finishes 4,302 metres above sea level, while the Nurburgring goes no higher than 617 metres.

The Volkswagen ID. R is spearheading the company’s move towards electric vehicles, with several new cars set to go on sale over the next couple of years.

We’re likely to see the ID. hatchback later this year, with the ID. Crozz SUV and ID. Buzz microbus set to follow in the early part of the next decade.

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.