The “Road to Heaven”: A worthy stage
The narrow Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road is a true tourist attraction. Not only is the scenery breath-taking, but the road itself also has plenty to offer. The serpentine strip of concrete winds its way up the mountain via 99 hairpin bends – lined by steep rocky slopes that fall, almost vertically, into the valley below. Few of the straight sections are longer than 50 metres. Also known as Tongtian Avenue (Road to Heaven), the route is used by buses to transport visitors up Tianmen Mountain. It starts in the valley at about 200 metres above sea level and ends at an altitude of roughly 1,300 metres.
“So far, I only know the road from photos and a few videos,” says Dumas. “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.”
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets explains: “Tianmen has a mystical status in China, where it is known as ‘Heaven’s Gate’. The route is one of the most extraordinary and difficult roads in the world – another special challenge for the ID. R. Our goal is to set a new milestone for electric vehicles and, in doing so, to support Volkswagen’s E-strategy in China, which is really picking up speed this year.”