Even though the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been going on for 96 years and is one of the most famous motorsport events on earth, the track is actually just a public highway for most of the year.
That means there’s only a short window of time during which racers can test their cars before the locals get ornery.
That time is finally upon us, though. Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen I.D. R have finally run the course for the first time and the reports are good.
“The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the best car that I have ever driven up this mountain,” said Dumas. “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.”
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Director was also complimentary about the car, saying that he was pleased with the performance.
“The news from Colorado is very positive,” said Smeets. “We are on schedule with the preparations for the I.D. R Pikes Peak and can now focus on the fine-tuning.”
As you may recall, Dumas will leave the starting line with only enough power to get 80% of the way up the Colorado mountain. The rest he will generate along the way. And that’s what the team was testing during their first test in situ.
“Perfect energy management is one of the key factors for successfully attacking the record in the electric car category,” said François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport. “The first test drive at Pikes Peak was successful. This shows that our computer simulations and the test drives in Europe were on point.”
Still, there is ample room for improvement.
“It goes without saying that there is always room for improvements,” said Dumas. “In the remaining test drives, we will continue to optimize the tuning. I know the track at Pikes Peak like the back of my hand, but it is the first time I will be driving a racing car with electric drive. I am learning with every meter I drive in the cockpit of the I.D. R Pikes Peak.”
Learning how to drive the car perfectly will be crucial to the record. Because VW has hinged its plan on making a light car with less power than the record holder, a perfect run will be essential to getting to the peak in less than 8:57.118.
“You only get one shot,” said Dumas. “If even only the slightest thing goes wrong, a new e-record is highly unlikely.”
Dumas and the I.D. R will go for the record later this month, on June 24.
A version of this story originally appeared on VW Vortex.