Volkswagen’s electric racer conquers China’s Tianmen Mountain road

What do you do when the electric race car you built to beat Pikes Peak shatters the record on its first attempt? If you’re Volkswagen, and that race car is the ID. R, you look for new bits of road to run it on. That’s why VW Motorsport took the ID. R to the Nürburgring in Germany and Goodwood in Great Britain, and it’s why the team could be found on Monday morning at Tianmen Mountain in China, about 800 miles (1,300km) from Beijing.

Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road is a picturesque strip of tarmac—with 99 hairpin turns—that runs for 6.8 miles (10.9km) as it climbs up 3,600 feet (1,100m) to Heaven’s Gate, a gigantic natural arch formation on the mountain. Such a tight and windy road could have been purpose-built to show off the ID. R’s strengths, particularly its acceleration from low speed as the car puts down 500kW (670hp) and 649Nm (479ft-kbs) from a pair of motor-generator units. (For a more in-depth look at the ID. R’s technology, we recommend these features about its exploits in Colorado and Germany.)

Racing up to the top isn’t something people do very often, although this wasn’t the first time a European automaker has used Tianmen Mountain as a marketing stunt for the Chinese market. Last February, Land Rover and Chinese racing driver Ho-Pin Tung drove straight up the 999 steps that follow the 99-turn road in a hybrid Range Rover Sport—a feat that still terrifies me. (I have had actual nightmares about driving up too-steep a gradient.) This time, Volkswagen had no pre-existing record to beat and nothing at stake other than bragging rights. Despite that, driver Romain Dumas was on it, reaching the top in 7:38.585 minutes.

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Source: Ars Technica

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