At the end of June, Volkswagen and French racing driver Romain Dumas did something many of us thought impossible. Using a highly specialized electric vehicle called the “I.D. R Pikes Peak,” Dumas raced to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado in under eight minutes, shattering the existing records for EVs by a full minute and the overall record (set by Peugeot and Sebastian Loeb in 2013) by a hefty 16 seconds.
Ars was there to see it happen, but truth be told you don’t actually that much of anyone’s run at Pikes Peak if you’re there in person. The course is 12.4 miles (19.99km) long, so even if you have a media vest and are free to roam outside the official spectating zones, you still really have to pick a corner and then be content with watching a small slice of each attempt from there.
But one of the marvels of living in the early 21st century is our access to small and rugged digital cameras. In fact, the organizers of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb are pretty good about putting a GoPro on every car and bike that runs up the mountain in anger, and within a week almost all of these were posted to YouTube. But not Dumas’ run, nomatterhowoften I begged on Twitter.
Perhaps Volkswagen got sick of my pleas, because today it posted a video showing the entire run, both onboard and from other angles. Thanks to the angle of the in-car camera, you’ll get an amazing view of Dumas at work. A few things are notable to me; for one, he isn’t left-foot braking. I asked him about this before the run, and he told me that he preferred to brake with his right foot in the I.D. R because it was more important to get maximum deceleration (and battery regen) rather than being able to (accidentally or otherwise) apply overlapping brake and throttle inputs.
Also, despite that big array of buttons and switches on his multifunction steering wheel, notice how he never uses any of them—he’s just focused on driving the route with no mistakes. And finally, the big rooster tails of dust that get kicked into the air as the car passes: yes, they illustrate just how much downforce the car makes but also just how dusty—and therefore slippery—the road was that morning.
Since Pikes Peak, VW and Dumas have taken the I.D. R to another hill climb, this time a much different affair—the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. Although they broke the EV record up that strip of road as well, they had to settle for only the third fastest overall time ever.