I.D. BUZZ meets the sportiest member of the family for the first time: the I.D. R Pikes Peak
It was presented for the first time in Detroit in 2017. The same year, production was announced for 2022 in trendy Pebble Beach to the delight of Bulli fans. Now, Volkswagen’s popular electric van has made the trip to Colorado Springs to offer moral support to its sporty brother during Sunday’s record attempt on Pikes Peak. With plans for the I.D. BUZZ to generate 275 kW (374 PS), it certainly need not hide behind the 500-kW (680-PS) racing car.
US star Tanner Foust supports the Volkswagen team
The Volkswagen team can count on the support of a US star, in the form of local favourite Tanner Foust. The racing driver and TV presenter was born in Denver, about 150 kilometres from Pikes Peak, and currently drives a Volkswagen Beetle Supercar in the Americas Rallycross championship (ARX). The three-time US Rallycross champion and multiple X-Games winner will be a guest of Volkswagen of America on Pikes Peak at the weekend. In 2014, for the TV show “Top Gear USA”, he went head-to-head with his fellow presenters Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood on the famous mountain in the US state of Colorado.
Colorado Springs lives and breathes motorsport
As is tradition, the race weekend kicks off with the Fan Fest in Colorado Springs on Friday evening. About 300,000 motorsport enthusiasts will gather in the city centre to celebrate together and marvel at the racing cars. The Fan Fest was held for the first time in 2002. Since then, it has grown into the largest street event in the city, which has a population of 465,000. Romain Dumas and Tanner Foust will be there to meet race fans and sign autographs.
Three questions for ... Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
Mr Smeets, Volkswagen is returning to Pikes Peak with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, 31 years after its last appearance there. Why with an electric car?
Our brand has devoted itself to electric mobility. For us, taking part on Pikes Peak is an outstanding opportunity to bring this idea to life with a racing car, before the first range of Volkswagen models with electric drivetrains is launched in 2020. Plus, there is obviously still this blemish in our history, since failing to finish in 1987. We want to return, win and break the record for electric vehicles.
The record currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes. What time is a realistic target for you?
Any time under 8:57 minutes would be a success for us. We are really optimistic about the race. However, we must always bear in mind that we only have one single shot at it. Everything must come together – the driver, the car, the weather, absolutely everything.
In your opinion, what is it that makes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb so special?
Nowhere else in the world will you find a race like this. It is a public road, which is still open to normal traffic up until the Sunday of the race. That comes with its own challenges. Practice and qualifying take place from 05:30 to 08:30, so you have no choice but to get up early. And then there is the mountain itself, of course: 1,440 metres in elevation and 156 corners, spread over a distance of 19.99 kilometres. You really have to see it for yourself.
Pikes Peak live in Autostadt
Motorsport fans who are unable to make the trip to the USA this weekend can follow the most famous hill climb in the world from Autostadt in Wolfsburg. The iconic hill climb will be broadcast live in the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles pavilion from 17:30 on Sunday. With direct links to the Volkswagen Team on Pikes Peak, guests will be able to experience the race atmosphere at first hand. Special guest Jochi Kleint will also be there to recall his Pikes Peak adventure in the twin-engine Golf back in 1987. From 22 to 24 June, Autostadt will be using the record attempt as an opportunity to present the facets of electric mobility through a host of promotions to partake in and try out.
All you need to know about hail, snow and sunshine: the weather
Competitors in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb anxiously look at the weather radar. It is not uncommon for snow, hail and even lightning on the 4,302-metre mountain to bring record attempts to a sudden halt. According to the latest forecasts, the summit should remain dry with a top temperature of around 6 °C on race Sunday. Isolated showers are not expected until about 15:00. By this time, Romain Dumas will already have completed his run in the I.D. R Pikes Peak – and will hopefully have a new electric record to his name.
Impressive display in qualifying
Romain Dumas made an emphatic statement of intent in qualifying for the 96th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The 2014, 2016 and 2017 winner was the fastest of all 64 competitors, with a time of 3:16.083 minutes, and will consequently be first onto the course in the I.D. R Pikes Peak on Sunday. In qualifying for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, each competitor tackles the opening section of the 19.99-kilometre route – from the start to the 8.3-kilometre mark.
Dumas receives support from his family
Romain Dumas will receive a visit from his parents at the weekend. Father Maurice and mother Geneviève regularly travel to events to support their son, and this year gave up their trip to Le Mans to join him for his record attempt on Pikes Peak. Dumas was just six years old when he told his parents that he wanted to be a racing driver, so that he could race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Maurice Dumas, who still races in rallies to this day, has supported him ever since – as has his mother Geneviève, who occasionally rides with her husband as co-driver.