Volkswagen is prepping for an EV lap record on the Nürburgring's Nordschleife

Volkswagen ID. R electric race car profile

It set a record at last year's Pikes Peak hillclimb, and now Volkwagen's electric ID R racer is going for another iconic racing benchmark. VW will attempt to set the unofficial lap time record for electric vehicles on the Nürburgring's Nordschleife circuit. Four-time winner of the ‘Ring's annual 24-hour race, Romain Dumas, who also set the Pikes Peak record, will be at the wheel. Testing begins at the famed course this week. The current record of 6:45.90 was set by the Nio EP9 in 2017.

Fans will be able to train alongside Dumas, at least virtually, with a digital version of the ID R developed for the RaceRoom simulation that VW is also releasing today.

The ID R is based on a Le Mans Prototype monocoque made by Norma, and it was developed with the help of VW's Porsche corporate subsidiary along with Volkwagen's own product development team.

Though they are both timed competitions, the priorities for a hillclimb are different from those on a racetrack. The ID R's two motors still put out a total of 670 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, and the two lithium-ion battery packs still have a combined 40 kWh of capacity, but the energy management and regenerative braking system have been modified to maintain the state of charge for the entire 12.9-mile lap of the ‘Ring.

The Pikes Peak hillclimb has a similar distance, 12.42 miles, but the thin air as racers approach the 14,115-foot peak and the 156 corners on the Colorado course require maximum downforce and grip more than ultimate speed on the relatively short straights.

Volkswagen ID. R electric race car driving simulator
Volkswagen ID. R electric race car front
Volkswagen ID. R electric race car wing
Volkswagen ID. R electric race car paint detail

The Nordschleife circuit also has many turns, somewhere between 70 and 170, depending on who is doing the counting, and the ‘Ring has 1000 feet of elevation changes, but the course never gets higher than 2000 feet above sea level. There are long straightaways on the circuit, and maximum straight line speed at the ‘Ring is just as important as cornering grip, so the ID R's aerodynamic package has been revised, and now includes a Formula 1-style drag reduction system. The DRS is essentially a hydraulically-adjustable rear wing that can be trimmed at the push of a button to reduce overall drag by 20 percent. The DRS has also been optimized to reduce battery load whenever possible.

A top speed of 168 mph, with an average speed of 112, is the target for the record. The Nio EP9 has 1341 horsepower, but weighs about 1300 pounds more than the Volkswagen and lacks the ID R’s aerodynamics. Assuming that VW is fairly confident it can set a new record, the next question remains how close it will be to the Porsche 919 Evo’s overall record of 5 minutes, 19.546 seconds.

To prepare for the record attempt, Dumas has run “countless” laps on the simulator now available to the public. The digital model of the ID R was created based on actual data from Volkswagen, with VW Motorsport engineers working with game developers to achieve realistic driving dynamics. For the ultimate in realism, you can also run the sim with VR goggles. You can see for yourself just how realistic the ID R sim is at www.racerroom.com/volkswagen.

The date for the actual record attempt has not yet been announced, and will likely be dependent on testing.