Setting the first ever time up the 99-turn Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road, Romain Dumas and the ID.R continue to push electric vehicle performance records.
Look, it’s no secret: I love EVs as much as I love ICE cars. So, when the ID.R sets a new record, it’s something I look into. This one, however, is a first as this is the first time any vehicle has set a time up Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road on Tianmen Mountain of Hunan Province, China. At least officially, anyhow.
The Record and Romain Dumas
The record, 7:38.585, comes at a time as China continues to push, hard, for electric vehicles as well as Volkswagen’s continued investment into EV technology and performance. It’s also coming on the heels of the announcement of the first ID. branded vehicle to make its debut: the ID.3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 10, 2019.
“A new record on a truly spectacular road – Volkswagen and the ID.R have once again shown what the electromobility of the future is already capable of today,” said Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand. “Not only has it proven that electric cars like the ID.R can break established records and set new benchmarks, but the ID.R also shows how emotive and exciting the mobility of the future is.”
After his record drive, Romain Dumas stated, “I will certainly remember this record run on Tianmen Mountain forever as my most spectacular outing. I am proud to have set a record with the electric Volkswagen ID.R in China.” Since it is a public road, there was no time for testing, as Romain explained, “The little information and testing we had beforehand made it a huge challenge. The road is incredibly narrow and winding, but the drive was unbelievable fun with the electric power of the ID.R. The huge torque was a big advantage on the short straights, while the aerodynamics provided additional traction in the fast sections.”
The ID.R is a specially designed racecar made by Volkswagen is considered the sister car to the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo. When the ID.R was being developed for Pikes Peak, VW used the knowledge gained from the 919 Hybrid’s aerodynamics and – with chassis development partnership with Norma (a French Sports Prototype and Hillclimb vehicle specialist) – allowed VW to build the car in just nine months. At 7:57.148, the ID.R became the fastest vehicle up Pikes, electric or otherwise and no one was able to best it during the 2019 running.
Since then, the ID.R has set electric vehicle records at the Nurburgring (6:05.336), the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb (39.90-seconds), and the Dewar Trophy of the Royal Automobile Club awarded to Integral Powertrain – the builders of the electric motors in the ID.R.
It has two motors, one per axle and making this an All-Wheel Drive racecar. The combined power of both Integral Powertrain motors is 680-horsepower. While that might not sound like much, its also powering a car that weighs less than 2500-pounds.
Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road
What makes this road interesting is how many turns this road has. It’s a corner carver’s paradise at 99 turns and done so purposely. Since it is the Heaven’s Gate Mountain – the rough English translation of Tianmen – the 99 turns symbolize the nine palaces of Heaven of the Han Buddhist religion. It’s also why there are 999 steps to reach Heaven’s Gate, the natural arch formation the road is named for.
The road was constructed in 1998 and finished in 2006, a full eight years and a lifetime for a country known for its fast construction practices. Though, it does start at 656-feet above sea level and climbs to 4,265-feet in that 6.8-miles.
It’s also a very dangerous road with no runoffs, minimal barricades, and huge plunges from the side of the mountain. Even driving slowly can still be tricky.
Not the Only Record
While this is the first record set on the road itself, other records have been set on Tianmen Shan. In 2007, Alain Robert scaled the cliff below Heaven’s Gate with only his bare hands. He had no protection in case of a fall and was commemorated with a plaque on the arch.
In February of 2018, a Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid driven by Ho-Pin Tung, a Chinese-Dutch racing driver, scaled the 45-degree angle of the Heaven’s Gate staircase from bottom to top using both its ICE engine and Hybrid motor.
Red Bull China produced a competition in 2013 between Red Bull China driver, James Tang, and 2018 Formula Drift Pro 1 Rookie, Federico Sceriffo (five years before he was a Pro 1 Driver). With the better score – and a top speed of 105.6-MPH – Federico was the winner of this first and only drifting competition up Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road.
Finally, the World Wingsuit League held its first and second World Wingsuit Championships on Tianmen.
Support Carbage On Sponsus and Patreon
I would like to ask for your support on Sponsus and Patreon. I love writing these articles, doing the videos on vehicles and technology, and it seems you guys always want more. However, doing them means I must take time away from doing other income generating work.
The goal is to make Carbage my main source of income because, not only do I enjoy it, but I feel I can bring a unique view in the automotive world. You can do just a dollar per month or opt in to one of the rewards I have setup on both platforms. You’ll also get exclusive content on both sites like galleries, podcasts, and more as I come up with them or from what you guys suggest. Head over, donate, and I’ll can create more content for you here and on CarbageOnline.com.
You can also buy merchandise at my TeeSpring store at this link here. Again like Sponsus and Patreon, purchases will go a long way towards helping create more content on CarbageOnline.com and you can show your support in the literal sense with shirts, hats, mugs and more!