Volkswagen chases extreme downforce for its ID R Pikes Peak racer

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Volkswagen returns to the the International Pikes Peak Hill Climb on June 24, and the German automaker is going high-tech with its new race car, the ID R. This all-electric race car packs plenty of power to help it silently scoot to the mountain’s 14,115-foot summit. However, as this video shows, it’s not only power that concerns the VW Motorsport crew. Volkswagen is also taking an aggressive approach with respect to aerodynamics.

The fastest cars up the hill have been running outrageous body bits for years. These range from dining room table-size front splitters to compact car-length rear wings. No, I don’t mean a wing similar to one you’d find on a compact car, but a wing that’s the size of an actual compact car.

To figure out its own aero needs, Volkswagen is turning to the high-tech world. A half-size scale model of the ID R race car is being scrutinized and tested so the full-size machine will stick to the pavement through the 156 corners of the 12.4-mile circuit. By testing on a half-size model, Volkswagen’s motorsport engineers can try out different parts more quickly. The team has been 3D printing wings, intakes, splitters, and other aero pieces to fine tune what will be used on the race car.

All of that aero will be put to good use thanks to the pair of electric motors. Together they generate 680 horsepower, which is enough to propel the ID R from 0-62 mph in an eye-popping 2.25 seconds

The ID R will be piloted by Romain Dumas. He knows this hill well, as Dumas won the event in 2017. Dumas finished first, but he aimed to break under the nine-minute mark, and came very close with a 9:05.672 in his Norma MXX RD Limited race car. Now he has a great chance to do meet that goal in the ID R. The mark to beat for an all-electric vehicle is 8:57.118, which was set by Rhys Millen back in 2016 in an electric prototype.

We’ll have to wait until late June to see if victory and an eight-minute time are in the cards for Volkswagen and Dumas. The car appears ready. But the weather on Pikes Peak is fickle, and the journey through the clouds is difficult…even when you’re in a car packing heavily researched aerodynamics.

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