Holy Wing, Batman! Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak Hits the Wind Tunnel in Pursuit of Hill Climb Record [Video]

In Volkswagen’s bid to break the electric prototype record in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, every millisecond counts.

When you’re in an ordinary car, you don’t often think about the air rushing around you. Yet, in racing cars, thinking about aerodynamics is critically important. At high speeds, the air actually works with tangible force – downforce, more specifically – to push the car into the road. And on the steep grades and tight, twisting turns of the “Race to the Clouds” – that could well make the difference. In preparation for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb next month, Volkswagen is preparing their I.D. R Pikes Peak racer by focusing on achieving the best cornering speeds.

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak
[Photo: Volkswagen]
Using the rolling-road wind tunnel at Porsche’s development center in Weissach, Germany, Volkswagen uses a 1/2-scale model to test variants of the I.D. R Pikes Peak. They used a 3D printer to quickly fabricate nearly 2,000 components for the model. Then, after testing several variants, they applied final touches to the full-size chassis in the Weissach wind tunnel. “The altitude on Pikes Peak means that the air we are driving through is on average 35 percent thinner. As a result, we lose 35 percent of our downforce compared to a racetrack at sea level,” Willy Rampf, technical consultant to the project, explains. “The huge rear wing allows us to compensate for some of this lost downforce.”

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak uses two electric motors, which combine to generate 671 horsepower. Since electric motors also don’t lose any power at altitude, like combustion engines do, the racer has plenty of oomph. However, while the air isn’t needed to power the engine, it is needed for cooling. Volkswagen is using simulation software built by technology partner ANSYS to find the best compromise for using the thin air to best cool the motors.

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car - testing
[Photo: Volkswagen]

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak to race June 24

Volkswagen will conduct its testing for the I.D. R Pikes Peak up until the race, which takes place June 24th. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual event outside Colorado Springs, Colorado, runs 12.4 miles from 9,000 feet above sea level to the summit at 14,115 feet.

Currently, the electric prototype record stands at 8 minutes and 57.118 seconds. Driver Romain Dumas will attempt to break that record in the final version of the racer. We will cover the I.D. R Pikes Peak up to the race, so stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more videos published throughout the week.