Volkswagen and the I.D. R Pikes Peak have made history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Driving the 500-kW (680 PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas – who wears a Stilo ST5 F Zero 8860 helmet – defeated a field including cars with conventional drivetrain technology.

In doing so, he not only broke the previous record for electric vehicles, but also bettered Sébastien Loeb’s all-time record from 2013 – by a full 16 seconds. Dumas’ new record of 7m 57.148s minutes is now top of the list of Pikes Peak champions, which includes such acclaimed drivers as Loeb, Ari Vatanen, Walter Röhrl, Michèle Mouton, Stig Blomqvist, Nobuhiro Tajima and also Rod Millen and his son Rhys.

12.42 miles, 156 corners, just one attempt – and a successful one: Dumas claimed his fourth overall victory at the iconic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which has now been held 96 times since 1916. With the I.D. R Pikes Peak, Volkswagen has created an extraordinary racing car, specifically tailored to the demands of the most famous of hill climbs: a combination of minimum weight, as much downforce as possible, and maximum power, designed to achieve the best possible performance. 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. 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 endeavour could be seen from afar: the flat, streamlined chassis and huge rear wing.

Volkswagen also struck out in a new direction when it came to charging technology – the goal being to charge the car as quickly as possible with minimum environmental impact. The time was defined by the 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, which in chemical terms is a sugar alcohol, was selected as the fuel. A by-product of the manufacture of biodiesel, for example, 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.

“Awesome! We exceeded even our own high expectations with that result,” said Dumas. “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. 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. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most impressive car I have ever driven in competition. The electric drivetrain means that many things are different and I learned a lot during the project. The team did an indescribably meticulous, yet at the same time relaxed, job. Not only did we get the desired result, but the team spirit was also spot on. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of it.”

“This is a fantastic day for Volkswagen and one, of which we are very proud,” added Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets. “The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most innovative and complex car ever developed by Volkswagen Motorsport. Every employee involved in the Pikes Peak project has constantly had to push their boundaries and show extreme commitment and dedication. 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. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on the project and showed such fantastic team spirit."