The Volkswagen ID.R claimed the Nurburgring lap record for electric cars with a record time of 6 minutes 5.336 seconds. The French two time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas kept his head cool and continues to break records with the Volkswagen ID.R following his overall record at Pikes Peak Hill Climb race last year.
The electric vehicle lap time record was held by NIO until now. They set a surprising 6 minutes 45.9 seconds lap in May 2017 with their EP9. Compared to the Volkswagen ID.R the EP9 is significantly more powerful, 1,000 kW vs 500 kW in the ID.R. But the ID.R has a significant advantage with a much lower weight of less than 1,100 kg vs the 1,735 kg the EP9 puts on the scale.
Hans-Joachim Stuck, racing legend and Volkswagen ambassador added that knowing the car is far from enough to be fast at the Nurburgring. A driver should do at least 500 laps around the Green Hell to be able to really drive this track on the limit and set a new record.
At 10:10 the Volkswagen ID.R crossed the start / finish line for the first time for the so called installation lap. Exactly 6 minutes and 25.385 seconds later the ID.R crossed the finish line. That meant that Romain smashed NIO’s EP9 record lap already during his warm-up lap and this was only just the beginning of the day.
It is 10:32 and Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen Motorsport team remain dedicated to tackle the next record time. And not just any record but the hallmark 6:11,13 time set by Stefan Bellof in 1983 in the Porsche 956. A few things like brake-by-wire were not functioning 100% yet during the first lap attempt. “With a new record time set already during the first run the main pressure to deliver a new record is off and the team can focus on improving the car with less pressure” according to Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.
One hour after the installation lap Romain Dumas is back in the car and ready for the first real attempt at setting a new benchmark for electric cars around the Ring. At 11:23 he whooshes across the start line with a ferocious pace. The helicopter chasing him looses him a few times as he rushes through the dense forest that surround the track. My stopwatch ticks away the seconds towards Stefan Bellof’s 6:11 time as Romain races down the four kilometer long Döttinger Höhe straight at the ID.Rs 270 km/h top speed.
The last 10 seconds work like a thriller; I can hear the ID.R and the helicopter come in at high speed while the clock surpassed 6 minutes. As he comes across the line the official time reads: 6 minute 12.191 seconds. Just over a second off the Bellof record! With this time the Volkswagen ID.R already achieved an average speed of 201.5 km/h. Average speed!
Romain Dumas returns to the pits cheered on by members of the Volkswagen team and invited guests. He is very happy with his lap; but he knows he can do even better. 50 minutes remain until he will go out on track again. Will it stay dry is the question that keeps part of the Volkswagen Motorsport team as they stare at the dark clouds on the horizon. For now chief instructor of the Nurburgring Driving Academy and commentator Andy Gülden remains optimistic. With 24 degrees air temperature and a dry track the conditions are very close to the optimum in the wind direction is working in our favor for now.
It is 12:34 and lunch time and Romain Dumas makes a surprise appearance at the hospitality tent. He comes straight to the point and says he is happy to have set a new record before lunch so he can also enjoy a bit of food with less pressure but Romain has more to say. “If the weather holds I will go out for another lap for sure. There is less pressure than at Pikes Peak where there is only one shot to set a record time. But also at the Nurburgring I have to be ready and push straight away from just before the start line as there is not enough battery capacity for a run-in lap.”
When asked about the car he continues: “The ID.R is fantastic; I have to push myself to really find the limits of the car. On the last lap it was the first time I ever took the last corner before Döttinger Höhe flat out.” But there is still room for improvement: “I could go faster in corners like Flugplatz where I lifted a little from 255 km/h. To keep enough power for the end of the lap I have to find the right balance for the use of power at the beginning of the lap.”
13:39; Romain Dumas heads out for his third attempt. Officially to test a new setup for an ultimate 4th lap record attempt later this afternoon but against the expectations he beats his last laptime with a 6 minute 9.039 seconds lap. Romain Dumas officially beats the 35 year old Stefan Bellof record in an all-electric car.
Sven Smeets returns to the paddock saying “It get’s more and more difficult to improve on the time set now but everybody within the team is already really happy and the day is going better than planned. One more attempt now and we will continue to try and improve the setup of the car. The last run is with the second chassis that set the 6:12 time before and runs better than the chassis that just set the 6:09 lap so we have high hopes to improve the time further with the last run.
It is 14:45 and time for the final run of the day. Dumas looks a bit more tense than the last run knowing this is his last opportunity to improve his already record breaking time with the Volkswagen ID.R. He passes the start line with the familiar whoosh onto his final run of the day. Live footage from the helicopter is displayed on two screens in front of me showing that he is really pushing, braking very late into the Carroussel. With 5.30 on the stopwatch he is approaching Döttinger Höhe, everybody is holding their breath. The 6 appears on the clock and only a few seconds later he flies around the last corner. The final time reads: 6 minutes and 5 seconds 336 hundreds. The second fastest lap ever at the Nurburgring Nordschleife with an average speed of 205.28 km/h and the fastest ever electric car!
Personally I was expecting Romain Dumas to be fast but not quite this fast. The Volkswagen team is delighted with the result and committed to continue ID.R development. Next challenge is the overall record at the Goodwood Hillclimb during Goodwood Festival of Speed coming July.
Volkswagen set a new record for electric cars today but the overall record is held by Porsche since the 29th of June 2018. With the unrestricted Porsche 919 Hybrid Timo Bernhard did a brain-melting 5 minute 19.55 seconds Ring lap.
Congrats to Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen ID.R for setting the second fastest lap at the Nurburgring Nordschleife ever and breaking the Bellof record for the second time within 12 months. Having said that Romain Dumas holds tremendous respect for Stefan Bellof’s insane 6 minute 11.13 seconds lap. Set more than 35 years ago with totally different safety and technical standards, in traffic and on a Nordschleife that was far from as smooth as it is today. As much as Dumas is a hero for his achievement today, Bellof remains a legend for what he managed to do in 1983.