News

Wednesday, 12/09/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

I.D. R Pikes Peak shines at Volkswagen works meeting.

 

The works meeting at the Wolfsburg plant was a major event. Gunnar Kilian, Member of the Board of Management with functional responsibility for 'Human Resources and Organization', Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the General and Group Works Councils of Volkswagen AG, and  Oliver Blume, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, thanked the workforce for their commitment in the first half of 2018 and looked ahead to the future. However, another protagonist was in the limelight in Wolfsburg: the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak.

 

The battery-powered racing car, which made history this year with its record-breaking run at the iconic Pikes Peak hill climb in Colorado Springs (USA), was on prominent display throughout the entire meeting and was an extremely popular photo opportunity for employees both before and after the official part of the event. A number of those responsible for the project were also in attendance.

Bernd Osterloh congratulated the entire team involved in the record-breaking run. Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars with responsibility for Technical Development, Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, and I.D. R Pikes Peak driver Romain Dumas, who all attended the event, received a special mention, a gift hamper and a large round of applause.

 

Volkswagen has set two impressive records with the I.D. R Pikes Peak in recent months: On 24 June, Romain Dumas set a new all-time record of 7:57.148 minutes at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Just three weeks later, the 40-year-old set a new electric record of 43.86 seconds at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the south of England.

Monday, 27/08/2018


Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

I.D. R Pikes Peak thrills visitors in California.

 

The fully-electric Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak once again proved to be a real eye-catcher in Pebble Beach (USA). A host of extraordinary vintage cars and innovative concept vehicles were on display at the 67th Concours d’Elegance, two hours’ drive south of San Francisco. They included the racing car that made history in the USA on 24 June 2018. Two months after its historic, record-breaking run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the I.D. R Pikes Peak returned to the United States for the first time, where it was one of the main attractions.

The Concours d’Elegance is the most famous event of its type in the world and forms the highlight of the Pebble Beach Automotive Week. This iconic event, which has been held every year since 1950 on the 18th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Club in Monterey, California, was not chosen by coincidence: after the I.D. BUZZ electric camper van had caused quite a stir last year, it was the turn of the I.D. R Pikes Peak to take centre stage this time around. The 500-kW (680-PS) electric racing car is the sporty ambassador for the I.D. family – the range of electric production vehicles, which Volkswagen will launch from 2020 onwards.

Thursday, 23/08/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Dr. Frank Welsch: “The success on Pikes Peak is of long-term importance.”

 

Dr. Welsch, this weekend the I.D. R Pikes Peak will be one of the stars at the famous Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, USA. A few weeks down the line, how do you assess the record-breaking run on Pikes Peak?

I am still very proud of the fantastic efforts of the entire Volkswagen Motorsport team. And you’re right, only now that the dust has settled a little is it possible to take in the enormity of this success. The project had a very tight timeframe, the entire development was completed within a matter of months, and the race itself lasted less than eight minutes – however, the success is of long-term importance. I believe that the victory for an electric race car against conventional drivetrains is of ground-breaking proportions – similar to four-wheel drive in rallying.

 

The success on Pikes Peak was more than just a motorsport victory and record. How would you assess what was achieved in terms of its overall importance for Volkswagen?

Volkswagen is following a clear E-strategy and will launch an entire range of fully-electric vehicles with the name I.D. in 2020. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the sporty ambassador to this new generation of vehicles and not only underlines our clear commitment to electromobility, but also the huge potential performance that E-drive can offer in the future.

 

Was the decision to field the newly-developed I.D. R Pikes Peak at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb taken for strategic reasons?

Yes! It is the most famous hill climb in the world. The name is mentioned in the same breath as many other iconic motorsport venues – such as Le Mans, Monte Carlo and Daytona. We were obviously excited about the opportunity to take on a race of this kind with a fully-electric racing car for the first time. And the fact that we only had one attempt there. There is no second run, no pit-stop strategy to adjust anything. No, everything has to be spot on – a great challenge for developers.

Speaking of developers, how much leeway did the regulations give them?

That was what made it so exciting and spectacular: Pikes Peak offers great possibilities, because the regulations impose hardly any restrictions. Particularly in the Prototype class. We were left to our own devices and our engineers were given a blank sheet of paper. In terms of the race itself, that meant establishing what is important? Is it of central importance to have as little weight as possible? And, given that, how large and heavy can the batteries afford to be? In the case of the latter, it was important to find an ideal compromise between range and optimal performance. On top of that you had the aerodynamic set-up and the altitude, at which the race took place – all of these factors interacted and had to be taken into account. It was a big testing ground and development laboratory. 

 

E-mobility is often accused of being relatively emotionless. Can a success like the one on Pikes Peak change that?

Motorsport has always served as a test laboratory for future technology and stirs emotion and excitement among fans and protagonists alike. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the best example of this: its extraordinary design, pioneering technology and enormous performance set the pulses of many fans racing. I followed the race on livestream in Autostadt, together with more than 500 motorsport fans; that was pure excitement and emotion – two elements that are obviously also radiated by our future I.D. family.

 

What does the project mean for the I.D. family, with regard to the transfer of technology?

There is always a close exchange of knowledge between production development and the colleagues in motorsport. A few specific examples of the development of the I.D. R Pikes Peak acquiring important knowledge for production are the strategies for and effects of the rapid charging process for the batteries, the optimal management of the energy recuperation, and the 3D printing of ultra-light materials, some of which had to withstand extreme loads.

How did the knowledge transfer take place?

In the field of high-voltage technology, the motorsport colleagues benefitted from the knowledge of the specialist departments for E-mobility in Wolfsburg and in Braunschweig – for example, when designing the battery modules or shielding highly-sensitive signal cables in the high-voltage environment of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, which reaches several hundred volts in strength. On the other side, the colleagues in Wolfsburg were very interested in the use and durability of the racing car’s ultra-light carbon fibre/Kevlar chassis.  

 

In your opinion, how is the future looking for motorsport with electric drive?

The race on Pikes Peak was a very successful introduction to motorsport with E-drive for Volkswagen, and we have many more ideas for further outings with the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Furthermore, we have for some time now been looking into possibilities for electric racing cars, such as the FIA World Rallycross Championship, in which electric racing cars will line up in the future. The question of what challenges Volkswagen will take on next remains a very exciting one.

Tuesday, 21/08/2018


Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

California Dreamin’ – with the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak.

 

Two months after the historic, record-breaking triumph at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the I.D. R Pikes Peak is set to make a first return visit to the United States: the first fully electrically-driven race car from Volkswagen will be appearing at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 26 August. The globally renowned event is one of a kind, a unique exhibition – for exceptional historic automobiles and for innovative concept cars. It represents the highlight of the Pebble Beach Automotive Week, which is taking place this year from 21 to 26 August.

 

The historic event, which has taken place every year since 1950 at the 18th hole of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, near Monterey in the US state of California, has not been chosen at random: one year ago, it was the venue chosen to present the I.D. BUZZ. This year, the 500 kW (680 PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak will be the centre of attention. It is the sporting forerunner of the I.D. Family, the range of fully-electrically driven production vehicles that Volkswagen will be bringing to market from 2020.

 

Volkswagen has already set two impressive records with the I.D. R Pikes Peak. On 24 June, Romain Dumas set a new all-time record of 7:57.148 minutes at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2018, the world’s most famous hill climb. Just three weeks later, the 40-year-old set a new electric record of 43.86 seconds at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England.

 

The I.D. R Pikes Peak will be joined on stage at the Concours d’Elegance by another Volkswagen newcomer: the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak. The first pick-up based on the MQB platform will enjoy static presentation at the McCall’s Motorworks Revival on 22 August, during the Pebble Beach Automotive Week, and it will be in motion together with the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport on 17-Mile Drive, the coast road along the Monterey peninsula, on subsequent days. Both models celebrated their world premiere in spring, at the New York Auto Show. Volkswagen’s top management will also be represented in Pebble Beach: Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen North America, and Head of Design Klaus Bischoff will be available to answer journalists’ questions.

Friday, 17/08/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak:
reduced weight thanks to on-board power generation.

 

For a fully-electric racing car like the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, the weight of the battery is especially important: it is the heaviest individual component – and each increase in weight has a detrimental effect on the car’s performance. It was logical for the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers to keep the batteries as small and light as possible in the record-breaking car. In addition to the sophisticated, weight-saving lithium-ion design, they are relying on technology that is already implemented in numerous electrically-driven production models: recuperation. 

 

In a conventionally-driven car, much of the energy generated by braking is converted into heat and is lost. In an electric car, this energy flows back into the battery packs. The I.D. R Pikes Peak itself produces part of the electrical energy required for the two engines, which generate 500 kW (680 PS). “This allowed us to reduce the dimensions of the batteries and keep the vehicle weight, with driver, well under 1,100 kilograms,” explains Piotr Wrzuszczak, Head of Research and Development Concepts at Volkswagen Motorsport.

 

However, the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers had not yet had any experience with recuperation. They were supported by the technical departments for e-mobility at the parent company in Wolfsburg and at the Volkswagen Preproduction Center (VSC) in Brunswick. “The cooperation with our colleagues from series development was a big help and saved us a lot of time,” says Wrzuszczak.

Golf GTI TCR touring car as development agent 

To make the learning process easier, Volkswagen Motorsport first installed an electric drivetrain in a Golf GTI TCR from touring car racing. This experimental vehicle was used a mobile laboratory at the Volkswagen test site in Ehra-Lessien. The focus was on recuperation. “As we were not able to test on the original circuit at Pikes Peak, we compared the data harvested from the converted TCR race car with the data produced in the simulator at Volkswagen Motorsport. We had programmed the whole track as a model in the computer,” explains Wrzuszczak.

 

The simulations were used to answer an important question: what portion of the energy required during the race will be produced by the on-board systems in the I.D. R Pikes Peak? A high percentage requires large generators, while big batteries need a correspondingly lower percentage – both options mean extra weight on board. “We finally settled on a value of 20 per cent as ideal,” recalls Wrzuszczak.

Recuperation must not affect the driving experience

The engineers also worked on another challenge in the simulator and during test drives. Regardless of whether it’s a race car or a production vehicle: the driver should barely notice the recuperation process and it should not have any effect on braking. The balance between the mechanical brake and the braking effect of the electric motors, which work as generators during deceleration, is decisive.

 

“The interplay between recuperation and braking is controlled by the on-board computer in the I.D. R Pikes Peak,” explains Wrzuszczak. Racing cars have far more extreme objectives than production cars, and the software is programmed much more aggressively. However, the production car also has to deliver the best braking feeling for the driver, make use of coasting phases and ensure that the battery recharged effectively without surges.

 

“One factor to be taken into account was limiting recuperation with a fully-charged battery right after the start,” adds Wrzuszczak. Energy management towards the end of the 19.99-kilometre race was also a complex task: with a racing car that uses a combustion engine, weight concerns mean that crossing the line with a near-empty tank is ideal. “We had a different task with the I.D. R Pikes Peak,” says Wrzuszczak. “Batteries that have nearly completely discharged do not perform as well. That is why our strategy was to avoid the charge level dropping below 30 per cent, even just before the finish line.”

Tuesday, 14/08/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak: 4,000 kilometres of test drives.

 

It was all over after exactly 7:57.148 minutes. With Romain Dumas at the wheel, the I.D. R Pikes Peak crossed the finish line in the world’s most famous hill climb. A record-breaking sprint that lasted 19.99 kilometres, preceded by numerous tests over a distance of 4,000 kilometres – spread over six months.

 

After the I.D. R Pikes Peak project got the green light in September 2017, the first fully electric race car from the Volkswagen Motorsport development department started to take shape on the computers of the development department. In order to make use of the time available until completion of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the technicians converted a Golf GTI TCR from the touring car department of Volkswagen Motorsport to use a twin-engine electric drive system with around 400 kW (544 PS). “We used this car for around 15 days in January 2018 to gather data at the Volkswagen test site in Ehra-Lessien. Being able to use the test site was a great help,” explains Fabrice van Ertvelde, project engineer for the I.D. R Pikes Peak at Volkswagen Motorsport, as he describes the good level of cooperation with colleagues from Volkswagen Technical Development.

 

Alongside Dumas, Volkswagen development driver Dieter Depping also chalked up some kilometres at the wheel of the electric race car in Ehra-Lessien. “It was all about researching the basics,” explains Depping. “The electric drive system was a new area of activity for Volkswagen Motorsport. We had to understand how the individual components work together in a race car, and what the ideal configuration would be.”

Rollout after the World Premiere 

Volkswagen Motorsport passed one milestone on 22 April 2018 – the I.D. R Pikes Peak made its official appearance on the racetrack just outside the town of Alès in the south of France. “After the rollout, we tested there for four days,” recalls van Ertvelde. The engineers needed to try out different setup scenarios for the suspension and the aerodynamics. Alès is Romain Dumas’ home circuit. The 40-year-old driver had also prepared there ahead of his three previous Pikes Peak victories. “This allowed us to make valuable comparisons between the results with the I.D. R Pikes Peak and Romain’s data from previous years,” says van Ertvelde.

 

The motorsport professionals made a number of return trips to the Volkswagen test site in Ehra-Lessien thereafter. Depping took over a substantial chunk of the test work as Dumas’ availability was restricted by existing racing commitments. And when the team set up a temporary base in mid-May at the Pikes Peak International Raceway, south of Colorado Springs, the former German rally champion was often to be found in the cockpit of the I.D. R Pikes Peak. For around two months, the American-style oval raceway became a second home for the 30-strong team from Volkswagen Motorsport. “In this phase, the team worked in a very concentrated fashion. Each and every person displayed unbelievably high levels of motivation and commitment. That was impressive,” recalls van Ertvelde.  

 

Volkswagen driver Dumas goes the full distance for the first time in the race

The team was only able to test on the original racetrack at Pikes Peak in late May, less than four weeks ahead of the race itself. As the public road to the 4,302-metre summit is intended for tourist use, Volkswagen Motorsport and the other teams were only able to use it on three days, before it opened for business – between 5:30 and 8:30 in the morning.

Depping and Dumas continued to share driving duties in the I.D. R Pikes Peak for these tests. When it was time for Dumas to take over, the weather conditions on the mountain worsened so severely that he was only able to drive on the lower section of the track, beneath the tree line. “Consequently, Romain was not able to cover the full distance in the I.D. R Pikes Peak before the race itself,” says project lead van Ertvelde. Nonetheless, Dumas was able to call on his experience of six previous appearances there – and complete the 19.99 kilometres in the Volkswagen Motorsport simulator. 

 

The 96th edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June 2018 showed just how well the Volkswagen Motorsport team had dealt with the difficult conditions during the development and test phase – Dumas became the first driver in the history of the world’s most famous hill climb to break the eight-minute barrier, recording a time of 7:57.148 minutes.

Friday, 10/08/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak: Teamwork between racers and technicians from production development.

 

Motorsport is a team sport. At the same time, the individual team members sometimes do their thing on different playing fields – under certain circumstances, they can usually be found playing a completely different sport. A prime example of this is the I.D. R Pikes Peak, with which Volkswagen driver Romain Dumas set a new record of 7:57.148 minutes at the most famous hill climb in the world on 24 June 2018. As well as Volkswagen Motorsport, a whole host of departments from within the Volkswagen Group were involved in making the project a success. “The help we received from production development was crucial to the success,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.

 

Entering uncharted territory with the brand’s first fully-electric racing car, particularly in the field of high-volt technology, the racing division benefitted, for example, from the wealth of experience possessed by the specialist departments for E-mobility in Wolfsburg and the Pre-Production Center (VSC) in Braunschweig. Among other things, stress tests were performed on the battery cells and modules for the I.D. R Pikes Peak, a safety concept was developed for high-voltage components, and the optimal conception of the two battery packages on board was researched here. “We also used the extensive expertise to shield the cables that fed several hundred volts from the drivetrain to the highly-sensitive signal lines for the control electronics,” says ex-Formula 1 engineer Willy Rampf, Volkswagen Motorsport’s technical adviser on the I.D. R Pikes Peak project.  

 

Tests with experimental vehicle at the test facility in Ehra-Lessien

When the design process for the I.D. R Pikes Peak started with tests using an experimental vehicle based on the Golf GTI TCR, the motorsport specialists once again called on the services of their colleagues from the research and development departments. The touring car, equipped with two electric engines, was able to complete test laps and gather valuable data at the Volkswagen test facility in Ehra-Lessien. “We were supported by engineers from the department for E-traction and electric components,” explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Smeets, emphasising the excitement the project generated throughout the entire concern. “For example, there were not previously any charging systems at the test facility in Ehra that could provide the capacities required for the batteries in the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Within four days, they had built such a system specially for us.”

The fact that the I.D. R Pikes Peak ultimately set a new record for the climb to the 4,302-metre summit was also down to the technology in the electric racer, which functioned flawlessly. This was guaranteed by the extensive quality checks carried out on each individual component. “Volkswagen Motorsport did not previously have any experience with the components of an electric drivetrain. Here too, the support received from the quality assurance guys in Wolfsburg was very helpful,” Smeets recalls. 

 

The Volkswagen Motorsport engineers also travelled to Porsche in Weissach for another vital cooperation. The colleagues at Porsche, who have worked on the LMP1 racing car, made their wind tunnel available for valuable hours of testing, and also provided know-how on the manufacturing of the chassis of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, which is made of an ultra-light carbon fibre/Kevlar composite. “At Volkswagen, we have the major advantage of being able to call on resources from across the entire Group, as well as being able to provide resources ourselves,” says Smeets.  

 

Knowledge sharing in both directions

The knowledge transfer for the I.D. R Pikes Peak was by no means a one-way road from the research and development departments to the motorsport specialists. The exchange also worked in the opposite direction. “With the I.D. R Pikes Peak, we addressed a whole host of problems that also arise with electric road vehicles. We are obviously sharing the solutions and findings acquired during our racing operations with our colleagues in production development,” says Rampf. 

 

One central point was the strategies for charging the batteries. The batteries for the I.D. R Pikes Peak could be charged externally in just 20 minutes – a time yet to be achieved with today’s road vehicles. A comparison of the batteries for a racing car, which have a high power density, with those in a current road vehicle (high energy density for high range) is only limited. However, performance-enhanced electric cars, for which new battery technology and control strategies will be required, are already a hot topic at Volkswagen R GmbH.

Race car’s electronics provide insights for road vehicles

The drivetrain technology in the new Pikes Peak record holder also yielded valuable findings for future road vehicles. “In the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the two engines on the front and rear axles are not connected mechanically. They are coordinated electronically. This demands very complex controls,” Rampf explains. “Particularly given the extremely high performance figures and the forces, to which the I.D. R Pikes Peak was subjected.” 

 

While the intense sharing of knowledge and data between Volkswagen Motorsport and its colleagues in research and development became routine with time, the interest shown by a department scarcely concerned with motor racing initially came as something of a surprise for the motorsport specialists. “One day, I received an enquiry from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. Its engineers were requesting information on the lightweight design of the I.D. R Pikes Peak,” Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets recalls.

 

However, the enquiry is not actually that odd. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will build the I.D. BUZZ in the future. The camper van with electric drive will be launched in 2022 and is a member of the I.D. family – Volkswagen’s first range of fully-electric models.

Tuesday, 07/08/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak: Pacemaker Dieter Depping.

 

He is the unsung hero and secret pacemaker behind the successful Pikes Peak project: Dieter Depping. The man from Hannover has been a motorsport test and development driver for Volkswagen for 16 years. Without him, the twelve titles in the World Rally Championship (WRC), a further two titles in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX), the three Dakar victories with the Race Touareg, and the many class wins at the Nürburgring 24 Hours would have been inconceivable. Or, as Romain Dumas puts it: “Dieter was my second throttle foot. Without him, the record on Pikes Peak would not have been possible”.

 

“The outstanding work that Dieter Depping does for Volkswagen Motorsport is of vital importance,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “Every one of our successful motorsport projects has received a lot of valuable input from Dieter. Whenever we have entered new territory, Dieter has been a reliable test and development driver and a genuine success factor. He played a decisive role in the development of the I.D. R Pikes Peak.”

 

The pacemaker

How is that possible, when there are such fundamentally different categories of motor racing? “You need a little bit of talent,” laughs Depping. “And you obviously have to focus on the tests and tasks in question, and to acclimatise yourself accordingly. This year, I had to switch between the development of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the Polo R Supercar for the World Rallycross Championship and the coming Polo GTI R5. It takes me one or two runs – then I can give the engineers the feedback they require.”

The 500-kW (680-PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak, in particular, demanded great adaptability. “After 30 years of motorsport with some very loud combustion engines, driving with an electric engine is rather silent. As such, you are missing an important sensation, an indicator for your timing and speed when driving.” This was a big change for the 52-year-old: “You only have the throttle, brake, and one single forwards gear. As such, you need a bit of time to get used to this new world. Once you do, however, it is incredible fun.“

 

Only two drivers have ever completed the full Pikes Peak route with the I.D. R Pikes Peak – Romain Dumas on his record-breaking run, on which he completed the entire route with the prototype in one go for the first time. And: Dieter Depping. During the rare and brief tests on Pikes Peak, he completed one run over the full distance. “That first run was not about the time, but it still yielded a really good one,” says a grinning Depping.

Monday, 06/08/2018


Classic Days Schloss Dyck

Double dose of Pikes Peak fever and a German debut.

 

Two helpings of fascination at the Classic Days: while the 1987 Volkswagen twin-engine Golf II Pikes Peak took to the Racing Legends circuit with its unmistakable sound, the 500-kW (680-PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak made its German debut at Schloss Dyck. The fully-electric racing car, with Romain Dumas (F) at the wheel, had broken the previous record for electric cars at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and also set a new all-time record with a time of 7:57.148 minutes. Having again set a new electric record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the I.D. R Pikes Peak was finally presented to the public in Germany.

 

In the new paddock, the 1987 Golf II Pikes Peak was a real crowd-puller as it fired up its twin engines. Volkswagen Classic sent the Golf, which generates a maximum 480 kW (652 PS), onto the historic circuit with Jochi Kleint at the wheel. Kleint raced on Pikes Peak for Volkswagen Motorsport in 1985, 1986 and 1987, and was happy to sign many autographs between his outings at Schloss Dyck. He also answered the questions of many interested fans on the subject of the twin-engine Golf and the toughest hillclimb in the world.

Wednesday, 01/08/2018


Classic Days Schloss Dyck

I.D. R Pikes Peak makes Germany debut.

 

Clear the stage for the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak: The record-breaker will make its debut in Germany at the 13th Classic Days at Schloss Dyck (03 to 05 August). The Autostadt in Wolfsburg will present Volkswagen’s first all-electric powered racing car at their “Passion | Pace | Performance” exhibition. With around 40 exhibits, ranging from the 1920s Bugatti to the current Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, the motorsport brand diversity of the Volkswagen Group will be presented, focussing on the past, present day and future. The 500 kW (680 PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak is the sporting forerunner of the I.D. family, the series of all-electric powered production cars that Volkswagen will be launching as of 2020.

Not least due to its successes, the I.D. R Pikes Peak impressively embodies the present and with its electric drive, the mobility of the future. Volkswagen has already set two records with the electric racing constructed in just eight months. At the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June, Romain Dumas (F) not only improved on the previous record for electric racing cars, but with a time of 7:57.148 minutes also set a new all-time record at the most famous hill climb in the world. Just three weeks later, the 40-year-old set a new electric record at the iconic Goodwood Festival of Speed in the I.D. R Pikes Peak, of 43.86 seconds – 3.48 seconds faster than the previous record set in 2013.

Visitors to the 13th Classic Days can look forward to seeing the twin-engine Golf “Pikes Peak” of 1987. The former German rally pro and European champion Jochi Kleint contested the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for Volkswagen Motorsport in this Golf 31 years ago. At Schloss Dyck, Kleint will line up for Volkswagen Classic in the 480 kW (652 PS) Golf. In the “Racing Legends”, classic racing cars relive historic motorsport on a 2.8-kilometre circuit.

Thursday, 26/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak:

Computer is important factor for development in record time.

 

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is unique in many ways. One thing that makes the most famous hill climb in the world so special is the heavily restricted test drives. Volkswagen Motorsport wasn’t able to complete hundreds of laps during the development of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, like Formula 1 teams are allowed to do on certain racetracks, for example. Before driver Romain Dumas reached the 4,302-metre summit in a new record time, he wasn’t even able to complete one full test run of the actual track with Volkswagen’s first all-electric powered racing car.

“We relied heavily on computer simulations in particular in the initial phase of development of the I.D.R Pikes Peak,” explained Dr. Benjamin Ahrenholz, head of calculation/simulation at Volkswagen Motorsport. The computer was used in multiple areas. “We used simulation programmes to calculate the components of the I.D.R Pikes Peak facing heavy structural wear and tear, for example, the chassis, monocoque, rear subframe and rear wing,” said Ahrenholz.

The aim of the computer-aided engineering (CAE) was always the same: a component should be as light as possible, but easily master the pressures that occur during the race. Relevant simulations were performed using the finite element method (FEM), during which the extremely complex structure of the components of the racing car was split up into a multitude of small components with predictable behaviour – the finite elements.

Computer designs optimised components
“This enabled us to simulate which components of the I.D. R Pikes Peak might need to be strengthened, where we could conserve material and thereby weight, or where the construction might need to be changed,” described Ahrenholz. When necessary the computer used topology optimisation to make suggestions for an improved design.

Dr. Benjamin Ahrenholz’s team was helped by the fact that the 19.99-kilometre track already largely existed as a computer model. The upper section of the track in particular posed challenges for the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers. “The road surface there is so uneven that the load on the chassis is much greater than on the extremely level strip of the lower section of the racetrack,” said Ahrenholz. “We weren’t entirely sure what would await the I.D. R Pikes Peak in the upper section beforehand, which is why we factored in a certain safety margin.” The CAE procedure also enables not pushing individual components to the limit, with a few mouse clicks, but definitely time-consuming recalculations.

Hundreds of aerodynamic configurations tested on the computer
Another computer-based technology was used during the development of the aerodynamics for the I.D. R Pikes Peak, computational fluid dynamics (CFD, part of computer-aided engineering). The computer programme calculated how even the smallest modifications to the body and the spoilers of the I.D. R Pikes Peak affected the drag coefficient, downthrust or the inflow of coolers. “In this way, we simulated hundreds of different configurations before we tested a 1:2 model in the wind tunnel,” reflected Ahrenholz.

The moment when the I.D. R Pikes Peak rolled out of the paddock for the first test drive on the actual racetrack in the US state of Colorado was exciting for the head of the simulation/calculation department at Volkswagen Motorsport and his team. “A degree of uncertainty always remains when a racing car has been completely redesigned,” said Ahrenholz.

Wednesday, 25/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Success factors for the I.D. R Pikes Peak:

a record breaker, thanks to 3D printing.

 

It is less than four weeks since Romain Dumas and the I.D. R Pikes Peak set a new all-time record of 7:57.148 minutes for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. For the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers, the race against the clock lasted far longer – about eight months. In motorsport, this is an extremely short period in motor racing terms, yet this is all the technicians were given to develop Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car.

The fact that they passed this test with flying colours was partly down to the innovative methods used during the test and development phase. “When we were in the wind tunnel with the 1:2 scale model of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, we gained a lot of time by using 3D printing,” explains Dr. Benjamin Ahrenholz, Head of Calculations/Simulations at Volkswagen Motorsport. Based on his notes, the aerodynamics experts tested several hundred different configurations for the chassis details of the electric racing car. “We made about 2,000 individual parts for the wind tunnel model in the 3D printer, sometimes with several printers working at the same time,” Ahrenholz explains.

 

3D printing as a time advantage

These parts were available to the team within just a few days. “In the case of conventional manufacturing, such as with carbon fibre, we would have had to wait several days or weeks,” says Ahrenholz. Days that, given the time pressure, the engineers simply did not have. Especially as the manufacture of carbon-fibre parts requires intricate and thus expensive mould construction. One advantage of the three-dimensional printing process is the manufacture of individual items.

Printed components save time during tests too
Technical possibilities meant that the 3D printing components used during the development phase for the I.D. R Pikes Peak could have an edge length of no greater than about 50 centimetres. “An example of the kind of parts that were printed is the lamellar upper cover on the front wheelhouses,” explains Ahrenholz. “On the other hand, we made the I.D. R Pikes Peak’s big rear wing from aluminium on the 1:2 scale model.” The spectrum ranged from a bracket just a few centimetres in size for a sensor, to complex channels supplying batteries and brakes with cool air.  

As 3D printers process comparatively soft, thermoplastic polymer plastic, components manufactured in this way cannot withstand great mechanical loads. “This only plays a minor role in the wind tunnel,” Ahrenholz says. Only the parts determined to be ideal during the test phase were then made of carbon-fibre composite or metal. Occasionally, the engineers were also able to use the 3D printing products to bridge the time until the final product was delivered. “This way we did not have to suspend testing just because a certain part was not yet ready – for example, a cover for the batteries’ power electronics,” Ahrenholz recalls.

Race car also features components from the 3D printer
Some of the components made in the 3D printing process did indeed find their way into the race car itself. These were exclusively small parts, the shape of which would have been very complicated to manufacture using other manufacturing methods, such as casting or laminating, and the dimensions of which did not have to adhere to extremely low tolerances. The plastic used in the 3D printing process is heated, as it must be viscous in order to be processed in the printer nozzles. Parts produced in this manner shrink slightly when the cool, meaning that the final dimensions cannot be defined 100 percent accurately, depending on the printing procedure.

For this reason, the only parts from the 3D printer to be used on the I.D. R Pikes Peak during its record-breaking run on 24 June 2018 were auxiliary components like brackets for cables and switches. Even they unquestionably played their part in the overall concept of the record-breaking car.

Tuesday, 24/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Pikes Peak fever in the Eifel region.

 

The Pikes Peak euphoria continues: last weekend’s Eifel Rallye Festival in Daun was the perfect platform for the historic predecessors to the I.D. R Pikes Peak, which set a new all-time record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb at the end of June, to really sell themselves.

The two Golf vehicles with which Volkswagen narrowly missed out on victories in the world’s most famous hill climb in the 1980s were without a doubt two of the stars in the top-calibre field of starters in the classic Eifel rally, which was aptly held under the motto of ‘Pikes Peak Special’ this year.

At the wheel in the legendary racing cars’ two appearances was no less than Klaus-Joachim ‘Jochi’ Kleint, who came incredibly close to winning the ‘Race to the Clouds’ in a 480 kW (652 PS) twin-engine Golf 1987 the last time Volkswagen entered the event, before being stopped in his tracks by a technical malfunction while in the lead just three bends from the finishing line.

Kleint was therefore especially delighted to be able to drive the two cars in the Festival Parade and on selected special stages in the Eifel region. ‘The informal atmosphere here is incredible. Especially as this is the first time that the two vehicles have participated in an event together,’ reported Kleint afterwards.

The legendary Pikes Peak vehicles made by Volkswagen were surrounded by motorsport fans and rally nostalgists wherever they went. Kleint had his sights set on one goal in particular during the three-day event that attracted 40,000 visitors, turning the charming Eifel town into something of a circus: ‘I want to get the cars back to the museum in one piece, while also offering the visitors a great show.’

He achieved both of these admirably, as demonstrated not least by the euphoric reaction of the rally fans at the Volkswagen Motorsport stand on the rally mile created in the town centre specifically for the event.

Friday, 20/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Record-breaking run from different perspectives.

Volkswagen made motorsport history at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June. At the wheel of the 500-kW (680-PS), fully-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas (F) defeated cars powered by conventional drivetrain technology. The 40-year-old’s time of 7:57.148 minutes, not only smashed the previous record for electric cars, but also bettered the all-time record set in 2013 by Sébastien Loeb (F) – by fully 16.730 seconds. 

Wednesday, 18/07/2018


Goodwood Festival of Speed

Record-breaking run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Romain Dumas (F) and the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak impressed motorsport fans once again. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed the Frenchman won the traditional shootout in Volkswagen's first fully-electric race car and set a new record for electric cars with a time of 43.86 seconds – 3.48 seconds faster than the previous best.

The Goodwood Hillclimb differed in a number of ways from the iconic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, at which the sporty ambassador for the I.D. family sensationally set a new all-time record om 24 June 2018: a standing start, an extremely narrow and short track of only 1.86 kilometres and no extreme altitude.

Sunday, 15/07/2018


Goodwood Festival of Speed

Electrified Goodwood.

The I.D. R Pikes Peak has wrapped up its next record. Romain Dumas (F) set a new record for electric cars of 43.86 seconds in Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Following his record-breaking exploits at the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb just three weeks ago, Dumas beat the previous fastest time for electric cars on the Goodwood Hillclimb, which has stood since 2013, by 3.48 seconds. 

 

“The I.D. R Pikes Peak has once again proven emphatically that it is a fantastic ambassador for our fully-electric I.D. family,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG and Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand. “I would like to thank the whole team. After the great success on Pikes Peak, at Goodwood we have shown once again how impressive the performance of an electric racing car can be. That is a very good preparation for our great electric car offensive which is starting next year.”

 

Volkswagen driver Romain Dumas was delighted: “Goodwood is an absolutely fantastic event and I am more than happy that we won in front of such a great crowd of motorsport enthusiasts,” said the 40-year-old after his latest record-breaking drive. “The hill climb track is short but often dirty and therefore you should definitely not underestimate it. In any case it is a great honour to drive here at Goodwood. You meet so many fantastic drivers, and the cars and motorcycles here span a century of motorsport. It is one of a kind.”

Friday, 13/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Little brother.

 

It radiates strength, with its aggressive front and huge rear wing – as if it were ready to attack at any moment. It dazzles, full of confidence, in the sun. At 4,302 metres in altitude. At the summit of Pikes Peak. The Rocky Mountains stretching out in the background. The perfect backdrop for a special racing car. The wind picks up, and the No. 94 Volkswagen goes into a spin. One quick grab and the I.D. R Pikes Peak is back in safe hands. At a scale of 1:87, a piece of cake.

 

Volkswagen recently demonstrated at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, that it is not so easy to pocket the real electric racing car. The 500-kW (680-PS) I.D. R Pikes Peak not only smashed the previous record for electric cars at the toughest hill climb in the world, but Frenchman Romain Dumas also set a new all-time record of 7:57.148 minutes. 

 

Highly-charged project

The miniature version of Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car must do without Dumas in the cockpit, and without the spectacular drivetrain. Despite this, however, the people behind the 1:87-scale model still had to produce a high-power performance to ensure that the model car was ready in time for the start in Colorado. Klaus-Jürgen Glaser is an experienced specialist. Commissioned by Volkswagen to build their models, he has been responsible for the miniature version of many cars. Yet, even with all that experience, the I.D. R Pikes Peak in 1:87 scale still managed to set his pulse racing. “That was a really tough project with a very tight time frame,” says Glaser.

 

The colleagues in Volkswagen Product Communications first came knocking on Glaser’s door in February 2018: the task was to produce 750 miniature models of the future electric racer. The catch: three different versions were required – the study, the test car, and the final race design. Three batches of 250 model cars, to be ready by the start of the race on 24 June 2018 in Colorado. “We usually start to work on a miniature model at least six months, usually more, before the launch of a car,” emphasises Glaser. “In the case of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, we had barely four months. That was very challenging, in terms of the planning and production, as well as from the logistical perspective.”

 

“As tense as a thriller”

Glaser immediately set about the challenge: invite offers, find suppliers, order CAD data from the technical development team at Volkswagen, get the designers of the I.D. R Pikes Peak on board, and set up an implementation process. Glaser saw the first model at the start of April – but only in digital form. There was simply no time to work with a real model. And so it was that many photos, designs and plans went through countless rounds of approvals. After various design comparisons and revisions, manufacturer Spark Models was able to start production in China. An individual silicone mould was filled with synthetic resin for the body of the race car. The rest was done by hand: cutting, painting, applying decals, adding details and polishing.

 

“The work on the decorations, in particular, was as tense as a thriller,” recalls Glaser. This includes the paintwork, as well as headlights, rear lights and such details as the start number and sponsors’ logos. The livery of the racing car was particularly challenging. “Two colleagues from Volkswagen Design were still working flat-out on the I.D. R Pikes Peak on site in Colorado. Time and time again they took photos and sent them from the USA, via my desk, to China.”

 

Perfect timing on Pikes Peak

In order to guarantee that the model cars were produced and delivered on time, however, Glaser had to call time on making amendments at some point. For this reason, the “little brother” of the I.D. R Pikes Peak is not a 100-per cent replica of its older sibling. The 1:87-scale model of the racing version is a combination of the study, together with the livery of the test car and the real racing car. The models were packaged by hand and sent from Zhongshan, China, to Colorado. They arrived on 18 June, just six days before the race. Perfect timing. Just like the record-breaking run on Pikes Peak.

Monday, 09/07/2018


Goodwood Festival of Speed

I.D. R Pikes Peak is making its competitive debut in Europe at Goodwood.

 

Memories of victory at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb are still fresh: Volkswagen made motorsport history on 24 June, when Romain Dumas (F) and the I.D. R Pikes Peak set a new all-time record of 7:57.148 minutes at the most famous hill climb in the world. From 12 to 15 July, the pursuit of records continues at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The iconic motorsport event is the largest event of its type in the world and is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. More than 200,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to flock to the south of England for this unique homage to motorsport.

The I.D. R Pikes Peak is making its competitive debut in Europe at Goodwood. Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car is the sporty ambassador for the I.D. family. “I am really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the I.D. R Pikes Peak at the Goodwood Festival of Speed,” says Dumas. “The race in Duke of Richmond’s estate is a very special event that is steeped in tradition. The best drivers in the world line up in some legendary racing cars in a great atmosphere. The I.D. R Pikes Peak may still be very young, but the record-breaking run on Pikes Peak has already made it a ‘living legend’.”

“It is a great honour for us to take part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed,” adds Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. “I still get goosebumps when I think about the magnificent success on Pikes Peak. However, that race is history now. We are looking ahead and looking forward to showing European fans the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Our brand has dedicated itself to electromobility, and we want to show everyone how emotional this topic can be, before the first Volkswagen range with fully-electric drive is launched in 2020.”

Hill instead of mountain: hunting down record for electric cars at Goodwood
Volkswagen and the I.D. R Pikes Peak have their sights set on the next record at Goodwood: the record for electric cars. In 2013, Jonny Cocker (GB) set a new fastest time of 47.34 seconds for the iconic Goodwood Hillclimb in a Lola-Drayson B12 69/EV. The all-time record is held by former Formula 1 driver Nick Heidfeld (D). Back in 1999, he covered the short 1.86-kilometre route in 41.6 seconds at the wheel of a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 Formula 1 car.

For the plan to come to fruition, Volkswagen Motorsport is currently having to perform a logistical tour de force: after the record-breaking run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the I.D. R Pikes Peak was prepared as quickly as possible for transport to Europe. It only arrived home in Hannover by air freight a few days ago. The electric racing car is now undergoing further preparations in Hannover, before heading to the south of England to take on its latest challenge. A race against time for the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

Also in action at Goodwood: the Golf Pikes Peak 1987

Volkswagen Motorsport has plenty to offer visitors to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed: as well as the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the Golf Pikes Peak 1987 will also take part in the race on the Goodwood Hill. Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck and Jochi Kleint will share the driving duties in the 480-kW (652-PS) twin-engine racing car. As with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the engineers opted for a solution with two drive sources when developing the eye-catching Golf. The I.D. R Pikes Peak features two electric engines, which generate a system performance of 500 kW (680 PS). As well as taking on the hill climb, the two cars will also be on display in the paddock, while the drivers will be available to meet fans and sign autographs. 

Friday, 06/07/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Helicopter footage of the record-breaking run.

Volkswagen made motorsport history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June. At the wheel of the 500-kW (680-PS), fully-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas (F) defeated cars powered by conventional drivetrain technology and, with a time of 7:57.148 minutes, not only smashed the previous record for electric cars, but also bettered the all-time record set in 2013 by Sébastien Loeb (F) – by fully 16 seconds. 

 

Just 250 days had passed between the announcement of the Pikes Peak project on 18 October 2017 and the record-breaking run on Pikes Peak. The unique demands on the drivetrain technology, batteries and aerodynamics make the I.D. R Pikes Peak an extremely ambitious project. This only adds to the significance of the new record set by Volkswagen’s electric racing car, which as the sporty forerunner to the I.D. family – the range of fully-electric production vehicles that Volkswagen plans to launch from 2020 onwards – is sending out a powerful message with regard to electromobility.

Monday, 25/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

 Three questions for ... Romain Dumas, driver I.D. R Pikes Peak.

 

7 minutes and 57.148 seconds – Volkswagen set a new best time in the most impressive manner at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (USA), making a bold statement for electromobility. At the wheel of the fully-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas conquered the competition powered by conventional drive technology and improved on the 2013 record set by Sébastien Loeb (F) by 16.730 seconds.

Romain Dumas, how did you feel that the race went?
“That was an unbelievable race. I have been trying to get under eight minutes for years. Now it has finally worked out. I found my rhythm fast and my first sector was nearly perfect. I had some fog in the second section and that made the turns very slippery. I didn’t want to take too many risks and lost a few seconds there. Thankfully, the sun came back out in the third sector and I was able to go on the attack again. After the last hairpin bend, I spoke to the car and said ‘come on, only 500 metres to go’.”

You had already won at Pikes Peak three times and celebrated countless successes in endurance racing, including Le Mans. Where does this win fit in?
“It’s right up there. Anyone who knows me, knows what Pikes Peak means to me. When I was six years old, I said that I wanted to drive here one day. Now I have won it four times. That is always something special but this year it was even more so, as Volkswagen has developed a completely new racing car and it was also my first time in a fully-electric car.”

What do you think of working for and with Volkswagen?
“I am very impressed. Developing a car like the I.D. R Pikes Peak in just eight months is a real feat of engineering. Congratulations! Many thanks are also due to the mechanics for their hard work, especially in the last three weeks, and for making this success happen. The lads have earned the chance to celebrate properly and then to get plenty of sleep. And in the next few weeks, what I would like to do more than anything is to sleep. I feel very tired, but very, very happy.” www.ppihc.org

Sunday, 24/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

All-time record.

Volkswagen and the fully-electric 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 (F) 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 (F) 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, Walter Röhrl (D), Michèle Mouton (F), Stig Blomqvist (S), Nobuhiro Tajima (J) and also Rod Millen and his son Rhys (both NZ).

 

“The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the sporty forerunner of Volkswagen’s fully-electric I.D. family. Today, we saw what this technology is capable of,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand “Technical Development”. “Every Volkswagen employee can be extremely proud of today’s result. I congratulate the team from the bottom of my heart. With a combination of outstanding engineering skill, passion and commitment, the team has managed to create a fantastic racing car in just eight months. The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak has now set the fastest time in the history of this hill climb, which spans more than 100 years – that speaks volumes for electric mobility.” 

Friday, 22/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

I.D. R Pikes Peak meets I.D. BUZZ.

 

The I.D. BUZZ was presented for the first time in Detroit in 2017. The same year, production was announced for 2022 in trendy Pebble Beach to the delight of Bulli fans. Now, Volkswagen’s popular electric van has made the trip to Colorado Springs to offer moral support to its sporty brother during Sunday’s record attempt on Pikes Peak. With plans for the I.D. BUZZ to generate 275 kW (374 PS), it certainly need not hide behind the 500 kW (680 PS) racing car. 

 

US star Tanner Foust supports the Volkswagen team

 

The Volkswagen team can count on the support of a US star, in the form of local favourite Tanner Foust. The racing driver and TV presenter was born in Denver, about 150 kilometres from Pikes Peak, and currently drives a Volkswagen Beetle Supercar in the Americas Rallycross championship (ARX). The three-time US Rallycross champion and multiple X-Games winner will be a guest of Volkswagen of America on Pikes Peak at the weekend. In 2014, for the TV show “Top Gear USA”, he went head-to-head with his fellow presenters Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood on the famous mountain in the US state of Colorado.

 

All you need to know about hail, snow and sunshine: the weather

 

Competitors in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb anxiously look at the weather radar. It is not uncommon for snow, hail and even lightning on the 4,302-metre mountain to bring record attempts to a sudden halt. According to the latest forecasts, the summit should remain dry with a top temperature of around 6 °C on race Sunday. Isolated showers are not expected until about 15:00. By this time, Romain Dumas will already have completed his run in the I.D. R Pikes Peak – and will hopefully have a new electric record to his name.

 

Dumas receives support from his family

 

Romain Dumas will receive a visit from his parents at the weekend. Father Maurice and mother Geneviève regularly travel to events to support their son, and this year gave up their trip to Le Mans to join him for his record attempt on Pikes Peak. Dumas was just six years old when he told his parents that he wanted to be a racing driver, so that he could race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Maurice Dumas, who still races in rallies to this day, has supported him ever since – as has his mother Geneviève, who occasionally rides with her husband as co-driver.

Friday, 22/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Three questions for ... Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director.

 

Mr Smeets, Volkswagen is returning to Pikes Peak with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, 31 years after its last appearance there. Why with an electric car?
Our brand has devoted itself to electric mobility. For us, taking part on Pikes Peak is an outstanding opportunity to bring this idea to life with a racing car, before the first range of Volkswagen models with electric drivetrains is launched in 2020. Plus, there is obviously still this blemish in our history, since failing to finish in 1987. We want to return, win and break the record for electric vehicles.

The record currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes. What time is a realistic target for you?
Any time under 8:57 minutes would be a success for us. We are really optimistic about the race. However, we must always bear in mind that we only have one single shot at it. Everything must come together – the driver, the car, the weather, absolutely everything.

In your opinion, what is it that makes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb so special?
Nowhere else in the world will you find a race like this. It is a public road, which is still open to normal traffic up until the Sunday of the race. That comes with its own challenges. Practice and qualifying take place from 05:30 to 08:30, so you have no choice but to get up early. And then there is the mountain itself, of course: 1,440 metres in elevation and 156 corners, spread over a distance of 19.99 kilometres. You really have to see it for yourself.

Thursday, 21/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The fan-fest in Colorado Springs.

 

The scene: Colorado Springs. In the second biggest city in the state, with its 465,000 inhabitants, the fourth weekend in June is all about motor sport – specifically the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Volkswagen will once again be taking part this year in this, the second oldest motor sport event in the USA (after the Indianapolis 500) – after an absence of 31 years.

The aim: On 24 June, Romain Dumas, with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the first purely electric racing car from the brand, is hoping to break the record for electric vehicles. Two days before the race up the 4,302-metre-high Pikes Peak begins, the mood in Colorado Springs, 20 kilometres away, is already at fever pitch.



There’s plenty for everyone of all ages
In the city centre, more than 30,000 motor sport enthusiasts will gather to take part in the official fan fest. And it’s sure to be a party to remember. “The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the most famous mountain race in the world, and this year is the 96th time it will be taking place”, says John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs. “The fan fest on the Friday before the race is a great start to the weekend and a major street party together with the contestants and their fantastic racing cars and motorbikes”.

The variety of powerful vehicles is almost limitless: prototypes and bizarre custom-made creations square up against thoroughbred racing cars and modified road cars. Their owners have only one aim: to cover the 19.99-kilometre-long track up the 4,302-metre-high Pikes Peak as quickly as possible. This legendary mountain race starts at the already lofty elevation of 2,862 metres above sea level. From here to the peak, the racers need to pass through 156 curves, each more challenging than the last.

Stars up close

The fan fest is a somewhat calmer affair, although just as emotional, if not more so. Here, the “motorised mountaineers” are entirely at the service of car lovers and anyone who ever wanted to get up close and personal with motor sport, whether they’re a die-hard racing fan or not. “Everyone who is involved in the Hill Climb in any way helps create a family-friendly atmosphere here, and an unforgettable event, especially for children”, enthuses Doug Price, general manager of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The first fan fest was held back in 2002. “The aim was to increase awareness of the race and to come together to celebrate the long history of the event, as well as the contestants”, explains Daniel Rodríguez, event coordinator for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In the meantime, the fan fest has become the biggest street event in the Colorado Springs calendar. Since it was held for the first time, more than 400,000 visitors have taken part. In 2018, the organisers are hoping to crack the 35,000 mark.

Experience the future

Year after year, the one-kilometre-plus Tejon Street is firmly given over to the competitors and their fans. In 2018, Volkswagen is also right at the heart of events, with an 80-metre-long stand that leaves nothing to be desired: music, games, free fan articles. Need anything more? In addition to numerous current and new Volkswagen models, like the 2019 version of the Jetta, there are two cars that will probably draw the most attention: the I.D. BUZZ, which is one of the purely electrically driven production vehicles that Volkswagen is set to roll out in 2020, and the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the official competition car for the race on Sunday.

Last but not least, there is the chance to get autographs from two stars: Romain Dumas and American Top Gear host and rallycross pilot Tanner Foust. “The fan fest is a great opportunity to meet fans”, says Dumas, who has already won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb three times. “On the day of the race, and especially during the race itself, I have to concentrate completely. So it’s great to spend some time before the race in a relaxing atmosphere, to take my mind off things and, above all, to chat and joke around with the many, many spectators, as well as the other drivers”.

Spectacular action


But the chance to chat is not all that fans can look forward to: there’s genuine action on offer as well. While talk is certainly great, motor sport action is even better, and the Red Bull Motocross Team will be presenting their impressive show on a series of outsized jumps. “Every year, I look forward to taking part in this event again”, says freestyle motocross rider Keith Sayers. “It’s just a great day, an absolute must”.


And it now attracts crowds from way beyond the Colorado Springs city limits, with young and old coming to marvel at the acrobatic motorbike riders perform their daredevil stunts ten metres above the ground. “The louder the spectators are, the more spectacular the tricks”, promises Sayers. This is certainly no secret to the fans, who thunder out their applause.

Wednesday, 20/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

I.D. R Pikes Peak on top in qualifying.

 

Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak made a clear statement of intent in qualifying ahead of the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the US state of Colorado. The Frenchman, at the wheel of Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car, was the fastest of all the competitors, setting an eye-catching time of 3:16.083 minutes. The three-time Pikes Peak winner went 11.049 seconds quicker than second-placed Simone Faggioli in his Norma M20 SF PKP with its combustion engine. “That was a very good day for us,” said Dumas. “The I.D. R Pikes Peak is incredible. I have never experienced acceleration and power like that in a racing car. I am noticing how the car and I are becoming more and more of a unit with every kilometer,” said the Frenchman.

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, was also happy with the way qualifying panned out: “A big compliment to the entire team. We completed an important test yesterday, the findings from which have helped us to further optimize the set-up of the I.D. R Pikes Peak. The result is that the car was superbly prepared today, and the time speaks for itself. However, that was only qualifying. We are optimistic about the race, but must always bear in mind that we only have one single attempt.”

In qualifying for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, each competitor is only running the first section of the 19.99-kilometre course – from the start to the 8.3-kilometre mark. The times are used to determine the starting order for the race. The competitor with the fastest qualifying time starts first. As it stands, this will be Romain Dumas in the I.D. R Pikes Peak.

Volkswagen’s pursuit of the record for electric vehicles, which currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes, begins on Sunday (24 June). First onto the route, from 08:00 local time (16:00 CEST), are the 24 registered motorcycles. They are followed by 62 cars in six different classes. Romain Dumas is scheduled to start in the I.D. R Pikes Peak at about 10:00 (18:00 CEST).

Monday, 18/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Fast French.

Volkswagen is banking on experience for its comeback in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. At the world’s most famous hill climb, Romain Dumas will be behind the wheel of the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Dumas has already won the ‘Race to the Clouds’ in the US state of Colorado three times. The French is also able to build on the experience gained from driving hybrid prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and secured the WEC world championship in this high-tech racing series in 2016 as a Porsche works driver.

 

Mr. Dumas, your fifth start at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is just a few days away. What preparations will you be making in the race week?
Together with the team, I will be working on the final minor details to optimise the set-up, in order to ensure that we finish first. After the practice start on Tuesday, qualifying takes place on Wednesday, when the starting order for the race on Sunday will be determined. Then there are interviews with journalists and an autograph session at the fan party on Friday. But I am also looking forward to having some down time.

You have won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb three times in the past. Why will you be successful again for the fourth time this year?
The I.D. R Pikes Peak and the team here at Volkswagen are fantastic. It is not an easy project, everything is new and very fresh, but we have gained a lot of experience over the past months and have prepared well together with the engineers and mechanics. I am confident that this will pay off on 24 June.

At Pikes Peak you will drive a super sprint of 19.99 kilometres, a distance that isn’t even one and a half laps in Le Mans. How difficult is it to make the switch?
It isn’t difficult at all. The two events are very different – a totally different car, a totally different track, totally different challenges. This means you need to take a completely different approach. Le Mans is like a marathon, whereas Pikes Peak is the 100-metre final.

How do you feel physically after arriving at the summit at race speed?
Bad, really bad. You climb 1,440 metres in altitude in about nine minutes. You feel it and it does not feel good. It is important to know your body well and give it additional oxygen where necessary. At the finish line at 4,302 metres, the air is so thin that it is difficult to breathe, especially after that exertion.

This year you are competing in the I.D. R Pikes Peak, Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car. How is this different from a combustion engine?
The feedback from an electric racing car is very restricted. There are nearly no noises from the engine or the gearbox. Normally, these are important indicators for controlling speed. In the I.D. R Pikes Peak, I only have what I can see outside and my display on the steering wheel. The lack of feedback makes it very difficult, but I enjoy taking on challenges.

Do you think that electric engines are the future of motorsport?
On Pikes Peak, electric engines are definitely the best choice in terms of the performance at altitude. And they also make sense in very short races, like Rallycross. But right now I can’t see it working for endurance races.

As of 2020, Volkswagen is launching its first series with fully-electric engines, the I.D. family. Are you in favour of electro mobility on the road?
Yes, I am a fan. It will be of great advantage to people, particularly in cities, and when the development of batteries progresses further, it could even become of interest for medium and long distances. Motorsport can play an important role here, since experience from the development tasks can help production.

Friday, 15/06/2018


Video

The clock is ticking.

 

Final preparations are underway and the tension is mounting. Race week at the “Pikes Peak International Hill Climb” kicks off on Monday (18 June) with the Technical Inspection for participating vehicles in Colorado Springs. Attendance is compulsory for the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the first fully-electric racing car from Volkswagen. The official practice session starts the next day. “The adrenaline levels will rise steadily until the race on Sunday,” says Romain Dumas, the three-time Pikes Peak winner who will be driving the I.D. R Pikes Peak.

Sunday, 10/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Positive second test in Colorado.

Volkswagen has successfully completed another test with its pioneering, fully-electric racing car: The I.D. R Pikes Peak. The focus during the test on the legendary Pikes Peak, where the Volkswagen team will attempt to set a new record for electric cars on 24 June – with Romain Dumas (F) at the wheel – was on set-up work. Tests on parts of the 19.99-kilometre route of the hill climb took place from Friday to Saturday.

The latest tests saw the I.D. R Pikes Peak appear for the first time in its final outfit – featuring the significant shade of grey that is synonymous with the I.D. family and its future range of electric production vehicles. The 500-kW (680-hp) prototype will line up with the start number 94, which is also a direct reference to the production cars. The “I” and “D” are the ninth and fourth letters of the alphabet.

Saturday, 09/06/2018

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Thursday, 07/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Emotional electro-mobility.

Development of the I.D. R Pikes Peak started around seven months ago – a multifaceted challenge, including for the Volkswagen Design team. “We already have a wealth of experience with high-performance cars and with racing cars, but a high-performance prototype like the I.D. R Pikes Peak was a world first for us,” said Klaus Bischoff, Executive Director of Volkswagen Design. “Our task was to transfer the unmistakable style of the I.D. family to such an extreme and emotional racing car.” 

 

The design of the I.D. R Pikes Peak is meant to emphasise membership of the future I.D. family, the series of all-electric powered production cars that Volkswagen will bring to the market as of 2020, at more than first sight only. The chassis design of Volkswagen’s first electric racing car must also provide optimum prerequisites from a technical perspective. “My whole team was motivated to the core by this unusual challenge. We are proud to be part of the team that realised this remarkable project,” said Bischoff.

 

I.D. family influenced the race car’s design 

Key design elements of the I.D. family were integrated into the extreme body design of the I.D. R Pikes Peak. “Typical of the I.D. is a very smooth, aesthetic style of sculptured quality. Then there are the vivid graphics and the unique lighting. All these are elements that we transferred from the production cars of the future I.D. family to the I.D. R Pikes Peak,” said Bischoff. For the 56-year-old, the first all-electric powered racing car by Volkswagen is an important step within the brand’s electro-mobility strategy: “A super sports car such as the I.D. R Pikes Peak evokes emotions in spectators. This emotional interpretation of the topic of electro-mobility will no doubt influence the production cars of the I.D. family.” 

 

The I.D. R Pikes Peak makes its competition debut on 24 June in the US state of Colorado. Driver Romain Dumas’ goal is to improve on the existing track record for electric racing cars, which is 8:57.118 minutes right now. “I would be delighted if the design we developed helps completing this difficult task,” said Bischoff. “We will be wishing our colleagues at Volkswagen Motorsport the best of luck on race day.”

Friday, 01/06/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Maiden voyage at the Pikes Peak.

Driver Romain Dumas was impressed with the performance of the all-electric powered racing car. Since the track to the summit at an altitude of 4,302 metres is a public road, the team only had access to it for three hours. For preparing for the further test runs and the race on 24th June, Volkswagen Motorsport has established a permanent base in Colorado.

“The news from Colorado is very positive: we are on schedule with the preparations for the I.D. R Pikes Peak and can now focus on the fine-tuning,” explained Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “It is the result of a very strong team performance, initially here in Germany and now by our team on site in the USA. If we continue to work with focus and motivation, we are in with a good chance of setting a new record time for e-cars on 24 June.”

Dumas was delighted after the test. “The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the best car that I have ever driven up this mountain. The acceleration and cornering speed are really impressive, and on top of that the car is very convenient. Thanks to the electric drive, I don’t need to change gears and can focus on the line instead,” explained the Frenchman. “But it goes without saying that there is always room for improvements. In the remaining test drives, we will continue to optimise the tuning,” said Dumas.

During the first test in the USA, the team mainly focussed on the suspension, tyre tests, and the optimum use of battery charge and energy recycling when braking. “Perfect energy management is one of the key factors for successfully attacking the record in the electric car category,” explained François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport, who, as project manager, is responsible for I.D. R Pikes Peak. “The first test drive at Pikes Peak was successful. This shows that our computer simulations and the test drives in Europe were on point.”

For the 96th edition of the most famous hill climb in the world on 24 June, Volkswagen driver Dumas has his eyes on the time of 8:57.118 minutes – the record for electric cars on the 19.99-kilometre track with 156 turns set in 2016.

Thursday, 24/05/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Lightweight design in perfection.

Seven months are nothing more than a blink of an eye, when you have been given the proverbial blank sheet of paper and told to develop a new racing car. The engineers at Volkswagen Motorsport have been facing exactly this challenge with the I.D. R Pikes Peak. “It was clear to us that we would not have time to build multiple test vehicles. We had to get it right at the first attempt,” says Willy Rampf, technical advisor to the project, recalling the start of the development of the car.

Before the car was actually assembled, a lot of hours at the computer were necessary to analyse a multitude of different configurations. The trials focussed on finding the optimal compromise between performance and weight. Both factors are even more dependent on each other in an electric car like the I.D. R Pikes Peak than in a racing car with a conventional combustion engine. The simple rule of thumb is: The greater the performance, the heavier the batteries required.

Virtually limitless freedom

As such, the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers decided on the following strategy: The I.D. R Pikes Peak was to be as light as possible, while still maintaining a very high level of performance. The framework for this strategy was provided by the regulations for the most famous hill climb in the world, which literally offer virtually limitless freedom in the “Unlimited” class. “There were virtually no bounds to the innovation shown by the engineers,” says François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport. “The chassis, wheel suspensions and safety structure of the I.D. R Pikes Peak are almost completely made of steel and aluminium.”

Despite this, and whilst still generating a top performance of 500 kW (680 PS), the car, complete with driver, weighs less than 1,100 kilograms – a lightweight compared to previous record-breaking cars in the Pikes Peak category for electric cars. The relatively low performance allowed the battery blocks for the I.D. R Pikes Peak to be made so compact that they could be positioned next to and behind the driver, thus ensuring perfect weight distribution. They provide the energy for an electric engine on both the front and rear axles, while torque distribution is managed electronically.  The I.D. R Pikes Peak – trimmed to maximum efficiency, with the clear aim to break the record for electric cars at the Pikes Peak on 24 June.

Friday, 18/05/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Uncompromisingly aerodynamics.

At first glance, it is clear to see that the I.D. R Pikes Peak has been developed for extreme conditions. The aerodynamic aspect of Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car is also uncompromisingly designed to tackle the most famous hill climb in the world. 

 

The relatively open regulations gave the engineers far more leeway, with which to design the chassis and rear wing of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, than in other racing disciplines. “The start line is located at an altitude of almost 2,900 metres, with the finish at 4,300 metres above sea level. The low air pressure up there means that the aerodynamic conditions are different to those at a racetrack on flat land,” explains François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport and the man responsible for developing the I.D. R Pikes Peak as project manager. 

 

Optimal cornering speeds in focus

During the winding 19.99-kilometre drive to the summit of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs (USA), a top speed of around 240 km/h is reached – this is relatively low for a prototype like the I.D. R Pikes Peak, as it could theoretically do far more than this. “For this reason, we concentrated mainly on achieving optimal cornering speeds. The entire chassis is designed to generate as much downforce as possible, without causing too much aerodynamic drag,” says Demaison, summing up the task facing his team. 

 

In the meantime, the findings from the development phase have been optimised in great detail in comprehensive tests. The first test run on the original route in the USA is planned for the end of May. Driver Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen Motorsport team then begin the final phase of their preparations for the “Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2018” on 24 June. The goal is to break the record in the class for electric prototypes, which currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes.

Wednesday, 16/05/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Experts’ Guide – Part III

 

In our third and last episode of stories about employees and companions of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, we talked to Mitch Snow. He grew up next the mountain and is the Former Director of Promotion & Legacy at the most famous hill climb event of the world. “After my freshmen year of college, I was interning at a local TV station with aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster.” When race week came around, Snow realized that only very few people knew as much about the event and its history as him and he ended up directing the station’s coverage throughout the week. “The following summer I reached out to pursue an internship with PPIHC and the rest was history.”

 

As one of few staff on the summit during race day, he first of all has to control the chaos. “I’ve handled everything from getting the summit set up for the competitors and media, gathering race times, communicating technical failures, and reporting on summit conditions.” Snow also takes care of a lot of other stuff, from medical emergencies to making sure the Sheikh of Qatar made it on the train to Manitou Springs on-time after his race to the peak.

 

Time is the number one resource

Asked about the infamous altitude sickness, which a lot of unexperienced visitors of the summit has to deal with, Snow, as a local, has some good advices: “Time is the number one resource for avoiding altitude sickness. It’s best for those coming from lower elevations – especially sea-level – to spend a few days in Colorado Springs to get acclimated before going immediately to Pikes Peak.” All visitors should also drink tons of water and avoid fatty foods, caffeine and alcohol. “Make sure to give your body time to rest. Your body works much harder at altitude, even if you don’t notice it.”

 

Also the ever-fluctuating weather conditions on the summit are a huge challenge.

The race in 2016 was an extreme one. “For the first time in the race’s 100 years history, we had to delay the start of the race by more than an hour because the last mile of the course had a quarter-inch of ice on it.” While the Pikes Peak road crew worked on the road with steel plows, Snow took the liberty of encouraging the ice covering the summit to melt faster by breaking it up in the most effective way he could think of: ripping donuts in the Safety Truck. “The ice melted great and the dirt lot had enough grip to create a safe runoff for the racers.”

 

Well informed

With limited technical capabilities at the summit, Snow is also very important for the entrants in another way. “After a group of drivers complete their runs, I’ll pedal my mountain bike to the east side of the summit where I can get just enough Wi-Fi on my phone to get updated timing info. I’ll then ride back over to the middle and tell the competitors their times.” Due to this fact, Snow had the honour to tell some of his childhood heroes that they accomplished one of their life goals. At the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June, Romain Dumas wants to be one of the guys, who gets the good news from Mitch Snow about a new fastest time in his I.D. R Pikes Peak. His aim is the record of electric cars.

Tuesday, 15/05/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Experts’ Guide – Part II

 

Part 2 of our stories with the Pikes Peak experts covers Rupert Berrington. The American entered the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for the first time in 1987. “I drove up as far as I could go, which was Elk Park, just above the tree line. I made the standard rookie mistake of underdressing for the conditions, it might have been 90° F in Colorado Springs, but it was closer to 50° F where I was. I remember the race was stopped for about half an hour because of hail and snow. Although I was ill prepared, it was amazing to see the cars race up the mountain, inches from the edge, with no barriers between you.

His first appointment at the PPIHC was the result of a creative idea, Berrington had. He noticed that most of the magazine photos from the race were taken at the start or finish line and had left out most of the best parts, which were in-between. “I decided my best strategy was to send photos to magazines that weren’t sending photographers and shoot the middle sections of the course.”

After the first day of practice, Berrington pulled twenty shots he took of the top twenty drivers and sent them to Autosport in England. “They were all transparencies back then. It worked. They ran a photo I had taken of Robby Unser.” After that, Autosport started using him for Pikes Peak coverage and then IMSA races. “From there, my career snowballed.”

Early birds demanded
Year by year the photographer has to deal with the special characteristics of the race. “Photographers need to be parked by 4:30 a.m. and the first cars start running around 5:15 a.m. as the horizon starts to glow. That you can take spectacular racing shots as the sun rises on a mountain makes Pikes Peak International Hill Climb very special.”

During the years Berrington has been seeing a lot of colleagues come and go. His most important advice? “You are on a mountain!” If you’re not used to the elevation, you can get altitude sickness. Winds can blow so hard, temperatures can drop to negative 60° F with wind chill. Frostbite and hypothermia can be a series problem. That’s why Berrington says: “Bring your warmest cold weather gear.”

But not only the freezing temperatures can cause a lot of trouble: Devil’s Playground is called that because it is one of the most recorded spots in America for lightning strikes. “Watch your step, the ground can give way and you can slip on ice”, warns Berrington. He has done both. “I broke cameras and lenses and I knocked myself out once.“ Despite Devil’s Playground is such a dangerous location, it is one of Berrington’s favourite places to shoot from. “You can see a large part of the course as the cars come up and get the crowds in the photos. The serpentines just below have lots of spots for great sunrise shots.” But also Boulder Park has a nice variety of shooting locations, but it is off limits to a few credentialed media.

One of Berrington’s favourite memories is an exclusive meeting with Robby Unser, who won the PPIHC in 1989. “Robby Unser broke down directly in front of me. He asked if I could warn the next car as he was behind a blind corner and I was the only person around. The next car missed him by inches …” Thanks to Berrington’s support.

Monday, 14/05/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Experts’ Guide – Part I

 

Pikes Peak Colorado. Quite a few legendary motorsport stories have been written at the 4,302 m mountain. We have spoken to some experts of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. First of all, Marla Wiseman. She is a Board Member, Registrar and Event Coordinator at PPIHC. Her first participation in the event took place 37 years ago – as a spectator. “In 1981, I remember I loved being up on the mountain, being around the loud cars, getting to meet the drivers, and being in the middle of all the excitement.”

One year later, Wiseman started volunteering for the non-profit and have continued to do so. “First and foremost, I love the people involved. I love the cars. I love the sounds of the engines. I love the beauty of the mountain. I love the excitement of competition. I couldn’t imagine my life without the Peak each summer.” On race day she has a lot of responsibilities. The first one being that she is the liaison between the safety team and the competitors’ family and crew in the event of an incident. She is also involved in the staging of cars and motorcycles. Entrance into the hot grid is limited to a certain number of crew members, and because she is familiar with most of the people involved, she helps security determine who should gain access.

The have been a lot of changes during the years. “It has become more sophisticated with more factory teams becoming involved. With the change of the road from dirt to pavement, the cars that run have changed as well.” But respect that people have for the mountain, from the competitors down to the volunteers has remained constant, says Wiseman. The start of the race day has changed for her, too. “I used to arrive at 2:30 a.m., however in the past three years, I started spending the night at the start line. It’s peaceful and you avoid the morning traffic.”

For spectators, Wiseman recommends leaving as early as possible in the morning, especially if they want to go past the start line. For safety purposes, the area is much stricter and much more professional in appearance now than in the past. Before, anyone was allowed around the cars and motorcycles that were staged to run. Now, the staging area is blocked off and limited to four crew members.

Pure emotions in the starting area
During the years Wiseman has been in charge at many parts of the mountain, course observer or an official at the summit for example, but she loves being at the bottom of the mountain the most. “It’s where the excitement of the day begins. You see the jitters of the competitors, wondering what the mountain has in store for them. You see it in their faces, their pacing, and hear it in their questions. What is the weather doing above? What is the road like?”

In this hectic area, you can see officials scurrying around getting everything set up and ready, the anxiousness in the crew members prepping their cars and bikes, and then intently listening to the radio to make sure their competitor made it to the summit. You can see the relief on their faces when the competitor tells them they made it to the top, or the disappointment when they hear it wasn’t a successful. Or even the concern and worry when the radio connection is broken.  

At the end of the day, all competitors who made it to the summit, come back to the starting are in the “Parade of Champions”. The highlight of the day, not only for Wiseman. “The high-fives, smiles, and cheers are the best way to end race week.”

Friday, 04/05/2018


Video

The sound of silence.

Watch the latest video clip of Volkswagen's upcoming comeback at the the world’s most famous hill climb race, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, on 24 June 2018.

Monday, 23/04/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

In its element.

 

Successful maiden outing: The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak completed its first laps at the racetrack in Alès. The fully-electric super sports car, developed for the iconic “Race to the Clouds” in Colorado Springs (USA), will attempt to break the record for electric cars at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June. Between now and then, the spectacular prototype, which generates 500 kW (680 hp) and features a twin-engine powertrain, will undergo a strict programme of testing – initially in Europe, then in the USA. The man in the cockpit for the car’s first outing was Romain Dumas (F), who will also be at the wheel of the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak for the record attempt at the end of June.

“It was absolutely fantastic to see the completed I.D. R for the first time, and to take it out for its first spin,” said Romain Dumas, who is a three-time winner of the hill climb on Pikes Peak. “What Volkswagen has managed to put together from scratch over the past few months has my greatest respect. I had obviously seen initial pictures of the car – but it is even more spectacular in the flesh. We now have a packed schedule of testing ahead of us, and I am looking forward to every metre!”

Sunday, 22/04/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Friday, 20/04/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Wednesday, 18/04/2018


Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Monday, 19/03/2018


Volkswagen in Motorsport

Thursday, 01/03/2018


Video

Red or blue?

Watch the latest video clip of Volkswagen's upcoming comeback at the the world’s most famous hill climb race, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, on 24 June 2018.

Wednesday, 31/01/2018


Driver Announcement

Volkswagen signs up Le Mans winner Romain Dumas for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2018.

Volkswagen is banking on experience for its comeback in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. On 24 June 2018, more than 30 years after Volkswagen last entered the world’s most famous hill climb, Romain Dumas from France will be behind the wheel of the marque’s first fully electric racing car. Dumas has already won the so-called “Race to the Clouds” in the US state of Colorado three times. He is also able to build on the experience gained from driving hybrid prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC): Dumas secured the world title in this high-tech racing series in 2016 as a Porsche works driver.

“The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a big challenge, because every driver only has one attempt,” explains Romain Dumas. “But I have real faith in Volkswagen Motorsport. The team is highly motivated and has already shown on many occasions that it is capable of achieving success right away on unfamiliar terrain.” The shared aim of Volkswagen and driver Dumas is to set a new track record for electric race cars. “Romain is one of the fastest drivers to have ever entered the Pikes Peak race. What’s more, he has thousands of kilometres of experience with racing prototypes under his belt. This makes him the perfect driver for Volkswagen as it makes its debut with a fully electric racing car,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.

Volkswagen is entering the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – which is also known as the “Race to the Clouds” due to the fact that the finishing line is located at an altitude of 4,302 metres – with a completely newly developed electric prototype. The regulations grant a high level of technical freedom in this class. “This allows us to demonstrate the efficiency of Volkswagen’s future battery and drive train technology in a competitive environment. An additional challenge lies in the fact that the race track on Pikes Peak is a normal road, where both the weather and road conditions are more frequently subject to change,” says Smeets.

“There is one big advantage of having an electric car in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: the power remains constant over the entire 20-kilometre route. By contrast, vehicles fitted with combustion engines lose a significant amount of power in the thin mountain air. I had to live with that in my previous appearances here. I am really looking forward to being able to drive from the start at 2,862 metres to the finishing line at full power for the first time,” says Dumas, taking up the thread.

The thoroughbred racing driver from Alès in the south of France is familiar with electric technology in racing cars: in recent years he has competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship as part of the Porsche works team in a hybrid prototype (petrol/electric). In addition to securing the world title in this racing series in 2016, Dumas has won no fewer than eight 24-hour races, including two at the legendary classic in Le Mans. The ambitious all-rounder has also made a name for himself with impressive performances in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Championship races.

Entering the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2018 is a significant step for Volkswagen on the way to becoming a leading manufacturer of production cars featuring electric technology. The Volkswagen brand will be offering more than 20 all-electric models by 2025.

Thursday, 19/10/2017


The Challenge

Comeback of the mountaineers.

 

New challenge in motorsport with the technology of tomorrow: Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for the world’s most renowned mountain race. The all-wheel drive prototype is scheduled to be at the start of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA on 24 June 2018. Its goal: to set a new record for electric cars at the finish line which is at more than 4,300 metres elevation. The new motorsport project is part of Volkswagen’s process of transforming itself into the leading producer of electric vehicles. By 2025, the Volkswagen brand will already be offering 23 all-electric models.

 

"The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore excellently suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies," explains Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development.

 

"Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test on Pikes Peak will give us important findings that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies."

 

The vehicle is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in close cooperation with Technical Development in Wolfsburg. "The race on Pikes Peak is a new beginning for us. We are developing an all-electric race vehicle for the first time," explains Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "The project is also an important milestone in our new motorsport orientation. Our team is literally electrified about taking on this incredible challenge." Volkswagen Motorsport last participated in the Pikes Peak mountain race in 1987 with a spectacular twin-engined Golf which barely missed finishing. "It is high time for a rematch," continues Smeets.

 

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – which insiders also call the ‘Race to the clouds’ – has been run since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. The race course is 19.99 kilometres long, and it climbs 1,440 metres to the summit at 4,302 metres above sea level. The current record in the class of electric prototypes is 8 minutes 57.118 seconds, which was set by the New Zealander Rhys Millen in 2016.