TECH TALK

Volk­swa­gen’s all-elec­tric IDR cre­ates history and shat­ters Pikes Peak record at first at­tempt. By Jake Groves

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Volk­swa­gen’s IDR re­veals how Pikes Peak’s fu­ture is set to elec­trify

VOLK­SWA­GEN’S IDR PIKES Peak elec­tric race car, driven by Ro­main Du­mas, has smashed rally leg­end Se­bastien Loeb’s 2013 Pikes Peak hill­climb record by an as­ton­ish­ing 16 sec­onds. On June 24, Du­mas set a time of 7:57.148sec on the world fa­mous moun­tain road to win his fourth Pikes Peak tro­phy. The IDR was al­most 40sec quicker than the sec­ond-placed Norma M20 SF PKP pro­to­type, also run­ning in the Un­lim­ited Class. “The IDR Pikes Peak is the most im­pres­sive car I have ever driven in com­pe­ti­tion,” Du­mas beamed. Volk­swa­gen hadn’t had a works-backed con­tender since a twin-en­gined Golf had mixed re­sults, in the ’80s, but maybe man­age­ment had a pre­mo­ni­tion of how well the IDR would go? “It’s about time we set­tled the score,” VW Mo­tor­sport boss Sven Smeets said prior to the event. “Pikes Peak is our first e-project. This is com­pletely new ter­ri­tory for us.” An all-elec­tric pow­er­train makes sense at an event that fin­ishes over 3km above sea level. Un­like in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines, elec­tric mo­tors don’t start gasp­ing at high al­ti­tudes; they don’t need air. But the IDR’s rear wing does. Pikes Peak is not only a power chal­lenge but also an aero­dy­namic chal­lenge, as air pres­sure de­creases the higher the car climbs. The IDR spent hours in Porsche’s Weis­sach wind tun­nel and ben­e­fited from data from Porsche’s LMP1 race pro­gram. “The al­ti­tude on Pikes Peak means that the air we are driv­ing through is on av­er­age 35 per cent thin­ner,” con­sul­tant Willy Rampf, for­mer tech­ni­cal direc­tor of the Sauber F1 team, said. “As a re­sult, we lose 35 per cent of our down­force com­pared to a race­track at sea level. The huge rear wing al­lows us to com­pen­sate for some of this lost down­force.” The IDR was de­vel­oped in just 250 days. Its twin elec­tric ‘E-en­gines’ gen­er­ate 500kW/650Nm and drive all four wheels. It can ac­cel­er­ate from 0-100km/h in 2.25sec (quicker than an F1 car, VW says) and has a top speed of 240km/h. Its bat­ter­ies can be recharged in un­der 20 min­utes us­ing glyc­erol-fu­eled gen­er­a­tors. Look­ing like a Le Mans racer, the IDR is built around a car­bon fi­bre mono­coque chas­sis and steel rollcage and weighs just 1100kg, in­clud­ing Du­mas. Me­chan­i­cal grip from sticky Miche­lin 31/71-18 tyres, as used by Porsche Cup teams, kept the IDR pinned to the sur­face. And to make sure peo­ple and an­i­mals could hear the vir­tu­ally silent IDR ar­riv­ing at warp speed, it had to be fit­ted with a 120dB siren!

WHAT IS PIKES PEAK?

They call it the Race to the Clouds, a 20km hill­climb to the sum­mit of one of the high­est moun­tains in the Colorado Rock­ies, named af­ter ex­plorer Ze­bu­lon Pike. The Pikes Peak In­ter­na­tional Hill Climb has been run­ning since 1916 and, un­til the 2012 event, in­volved a mixed sur­face of tar­mac and gravel. Now it’s a fully paved rib­bon of ter­ror up to the fin­ish line at 4302m above sea level. En­trants have to tackle 156 cor­ners, some with sheer drops if they step too far out of line, and 1440m of to­tal in­cline. Se­bastien Loeb set the pre­vi­ous record time of 8:13.878sec in a 652kW Peu­geot 208 T16 in 2013. The old elec­tric (Al­ter­nate Fuel) record of 8:57.118sec was set by Rhys Millen in a Drive eO PPo3 in 2015.

UN­LIKE IN­TER­NAL COM­BUS­TION EN­GINES, ELEC­TRIC MO­TORS DON’T START GASP­ING AT HIGH AL­TI­TUDES; THEY DON’T NEED AIR

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