Volkswagen’s new I.D. R Pikes Peak electric car set an untouchable qualifying time of 3:16.083 today with Romain Dumas behind the wheel, the company announced today. Qualifying only uses the first 5.2-mile section of the course, yet the pace demonstrated today shows that the electric record they want to claim on race day should be in reach.
Dumas’ time was a full 11.049 seconds quicker than the second fastest car, a combustion powered Norma M20 SF PKP driven by Simon Faggioli.
More importantly, the electric time record for the full Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course is only 8:57.118, and the overall record is 8:13.878. Volkswagen has been excitedly telling everyone they’d like to beat the electric record, but has shied away from saying they’re after the overall record. Yet I think both records are within their grasp.
I ran the numbers based on how quickly the Volkswagen did the first section of the course, and if they continue up the mountain at the same pace, they’d make it through the full 12.42-mile course in roughly 7:52.
Now, of course, there’s a lot of caveats to estimating a full-course lap time in that way. The road varies significantly from the top to the bottom, and is constantly changing, especially near the top where a freshly paved section was a surprise to Dumas on the test day. Dumas could run faster or slower in that upper section depending on what the road and weather are like on race day.
Yet if conditions are perfect, the fact that they’re running an electric car for this may help them smash a pair of records—not just the one they’re after. Power output doesn’t dimish sharply at higher altitudes in an electric motor as it does with a conventional internal combustion engine. The reason why so many combustion powered cars at Pikes Peak run huge turbos is because they need to force more air in to make reasonable power when the air is so thin at the top of the mountain. Electric cars simply don’t have that problem.
Either way, it’s worth noting in the grand Jalopnik tradition of full disclosure that I’ll be Volkswagen’s guest this weekend for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. (VW paid for food, lodging and travel for both this and a practice day a couple weeks ago.) Let me know if you have any burning questions about their car or any of the others that are showing up, or want to see anything in particular from Pikes Peak! It should be a total blast regardless of whether Volkswagen actually does the thing.