I'll spare you the suspense: Volkswagen has obliterated the Nurburgring Nordschliefe EV record time, with the ID.R lapping the 12.9-mile circuit in a credibility-stretching 6:05.336. While that's some way short of the 5:19.546 set by the unrestricted Porsche 919 Evo last year - which may come as a disappointment to some in the forums - it is still a remarkable achievement when you realise it constitutes the second-fastest time ever recorded at the track.
As previous record holder Peter Dumbreck predicted in our preview story, the only thing that was likely to stop VW from winning this one was either bad weather or mechanical failure. But it's been gloriously hot in the Eifel Mountains and the ID.R ran flawlessly throughout the day. Driver Romain Dumas, the same man who piloted it to the record time at Pikes Peak last year, reckoned that there might have been a couple of seconds more to find, but the record is still a seriously impressive one.
While the NIO EP9 could only run three times on the day Dumbreck set the previous 6:45, Volkswagen's fast chargers - and having two separate cars - meant Dumas was able to complete a total of four laps. The morning installation lap was a record in its own right, 6:25, and the times fell steadily from there. Even the number two chassis turned in a 6:09 while being used to test settings for the number one car.
The final run took place just before 3pm with bets being taken on the pit wall as to whether or not Dumas would be able to drop below the six minute barrier. Not quite, but it hardly matters. Being Germany, the record had to be officially certified with a team of scrutineers on hand to make sure that the number on the clock tallied with the two stopwatches being carried by notary Jens Böhle - who admits he is being kept busy by the demand for officially recognised Nordschleife records.
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen's director of motorsport, admitted that the final time was slightly outside the one that Volkswagen's simulators had predicted for optimal conditions, but said that the air temperature was slightly too hot for the twin battery packs to be completely happy. Lap time improvements throughout the day mostly came at the start of the lap, with Dumas's confidence growing and tweaks to the battery software allowing the car to go faster throughout more of the lap. Smeets confirmed that, at the end of the flying lap, the car had only a "couple of hundred metres" of range remaining.
As for what the ID.R does next, Smeets admits that other challenges are under consideration, with the next date in the diary being a return to Goodwood and an attempt to beat the 43.86 seconds set last year. The all-time hill record of 41.6 seconds, set by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13 20 years ago, must be under serious threat...
It's not just not raining on the 'Ring, it's pretty much optimal record-setting conditions, with barely a cloud in the sky and the temperature in the mid-20s. Due to the strange way that official Nurburgring records are set - with a lawyer taking notes and everything - we're not allowed to talk times until 5:30 German time this evening. But I can say that team confidence seems to be very high following the ID.R's first installation lap, which Romain Dumas has just returned from.
One interesting contrast with the NIO record is charging time. While Peter Dumbreck only got three laps on the day he set the record Volkswagen have got two chassis and a fast-charging system that we're told can replenish the ID.R's lithium ion battery packs in around 20 minutes. We haven't been given an official battery capacity, but the use of two 90kW/h chargers suggests - on what could be shaky maths - that this is around the 60kW/h mark. That means that Romain Dumas can do at least a lap an hour, and the plan seems to be to properly attack the record before lunch.
Volkswagen has brought PH to Germany this morning to see the ID.R testing on the Nurburgring Nordschleife with the clear anticipation that we're going to see something special.
This is of course a development of the same EV that smashed the course record for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last year, although sadly without driver Romain Dumas doing a one-handed 'Vatanen Salute'. Dumas is back in the hot seat at the 'Ring and we hope to get the chance to talk to him later, but before that we reckoned it was a good opportunity to have a chat with the man whose record he might well be taking.
Sportscar veteran Peter Dumbreck is a long-term Nordschleife specialist and was the fearless pilot of the NIO EP9 which posted a then-record time of 6:45.9 around the 13.7-mile circuit in 2017. Remind yourself of his steely-eyed determination with the in-car posted to the bottom of our original story. While other cars have gone quicker since then, the Porsche 919 Evo going around more than a minute faster, Dumbreck still holds the officially recognised EV record. For a while longer, at least.
"The number one challenge is obviously finding a dry day," Dumbreck said when I spoke to him on Friday, "if it's raining then all bets are off; you're never going to press that hard on a wet surface."
Despite forecasts of rain, it looks nice and bright at the Nurburgring this morning.
But the other big issue for Dumas and the team will be the limited opportunities to make it happen. "With a combustion engine you can do a three-lap run, or come back in to get fuel and tyres and then go straight out again," Dumbreck said, "with an electric car it's tuned to do one lap and to give as much power as it can without overheating the batteries... if you've done the job right you'll run out of power as soon as you cross the line. It's like a hillclimb: you push from start to finish."
On the day he set the record, Dumbreck drove a total of three laps in the EP9, driving the wrong way for just far enough to get a run to the line and then stopping straight past the finish. So there's even less room for error than normal.
While the IDR has less power than the EP9 - Volkswagen claims a peak of 680hp versus the NIO's 1341hp, although the EP9's record was set in a longer-lasting 872hp state of tune - it also weights around 630kg less. That's likely to be the critical difference, although Dumbreck was predictably keen to defend the NIO's honour.
"I think the big difference is that our car might be more loosely termed a production car, there are 16 of them out there in the world. I think the IDR is a bit more of a track car than the EP9 is," he said, "I wouldn't think they are going to get anywhere near the Porsche 919, but I think it's feasible they are going to wipe quite a few seconds off my time."
"If I'm honest about this the only thing that's going to be stopping them is the weather," he added. But if the record does fall, would he be tempted to have another crack at it?
"Absolutely! We live for competition and part of me is definitely sad that I'm close to losing my record here, but I know that NIO are certainly considering the next steps, there was even talk of us going back to try and better it before VW announced they were coming here. I'd always be up for giving it another go."
Once a race driver, always a race driver.
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