French driver Romain Dumas obliterated the overall Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record on June 24th 2018, piloting his electric Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak car to the finish line with a time of 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds, topping compatriot Sébastien Loeb’s all-time record from 2013 – by an outrageous margin of 16 seconds.

French driver Romain Dumas in parc fermé atop Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motors]
And his VW was packing 500 kW in the Race to the Clouds. It was his fourth victory on America’s Mountain in Colorado Springs, and the 96th running of the race. In a sign of the e-times, Rhys Millen held the previous electric vehicle record (8:57.118) with a 1,600-hp electric prototype since 2016.

“I made no mistakes,” Dumas said. “This race is so tough. I am so happy. We have worked six years for this race.”

“Since this week’s tests, we have known that it was possible to break the all-time record. For it to come off, everything had to come together perfectly – from the technology to the driver,” Dumas added. “And the weather had to play ball, too. That everything ran so smoothly is an incredible feeling, and the new record on Pikes Peak is the icing on the cake. I still cannot believe that Volkswagen and my name are behind this incredible time.”

Dumas was competing against conventional internally-combusted cars, one of them being motorcycle action hero Travis Pastrana, who won the Clubsport class in a 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 in 10:33.9.

Including its battery cells, the I.D. R Pikes Peak weighs less than 1,100 kilograms. When evaluating performance, Volkswagen employed simulation software to calculate exactly how to achieve the optimum in energy demand and performance for the record attempt on Pikes Peak. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motorsport]
Volkswagen’s goal was to charge the car as quickly as possible with minimum environmental impact. Per regulations, in case of the race being suspended, it must be possible to completely charge the car in under 20 minutes. The electricity required was provided by generators at the foot of Pikes Peak. Glycerol (chemically speaking: a sugar alcohol) was selected as the fuel. A by-product of the manufacture of biodiesel, glycerol combusts with virtually no harmful exhaust fumes or residues. Glycerol itself is non-toxic and is even permitted as an additive in the food and cosmetics industries.

“Every employee involved in the Pikes Peak project has constantly had to push their boundaries and show extreme commitment and dedication,” Volkswagen’s Motorsports Director Sven Smeets said. “Without this, it would not have been possible to repeatedly overcome new challenges and come up with new solutions. It should actually be impossible to achieve all that and especially the all-time record in such a short time, but our team pulled it off thanks to their passion and commitment.

A jubilant and relaxed Romain Dumas (center) shares a moment with crew members after blitzing to a record 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motorsport]
250 Days

VW’s Pikes Peak car was announced on October 18, 2017 and Dumas crossed the finish line on June 24, 2018, just 250 days later. From prototype to fully-electric drive technology and battery management, Smeets and his team had its hands full in Wolfsburg, at the motorsport headquarters in Hannover, Germany. Most teams spend the month of June in Colorado Springs in intense preparation.

All it took was a team of VW engineers, a huge objective, and 250 days to break the record. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motorsport]
Volkswagen partners included Volkswagen R, ANSYS, Michelin, Integral e-drive and OMP. With Volkswagen R, the I.D. R Pikes Peak received a sporting seal of approval from the outset. ANSYS provided software simulations support. According to Smeets, Michelin’s years of experience on Pikes Peak allowed them to provide tire technology perfectly tailored to the demands of the hill climb. The I.D. R Pikes Peak’s E-engines, which together generated 500 kW (680 PS), were achieved in collaboration with partner Integral e-drive. OMP provided the featherweight racing framework.

Jeremiah Johnson was the first electric motorcycle, at 40th place overall. He was racing on a 2018 University of Nottingham UoN-PP-02 bike, which took third place at the 2018 Isle of Man Zero TT with rider Daley Mathison two weeks prior.

Dumas climbs above the clouds. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motorsport]
In the matter of aerodynamics, the key was to compensate for the loss of downforce caused by the thin air on Pikes Peak. The result of this effort could be seen from afar: the flat, streamlined chassis and huge rear wing. [Rupert Berrington/Volkswagen Motorsport]
 

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