Volkswagen has unveiled a new look for its record-breaking ID R electric motorsport car for its assault on the 99-turn Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China later this year.
The 671bhp ID R smashed the outright Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record last year. It has followed up this year by setting a new electric lap record on the Nurburgring, and a new outright record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
To highlight the car and the forthcoming ID range in China, the world’s biggest electric vehicle market, Volkswagen's motorsport division will tackle the 6.8-mile Tongtian Avenue road, which runs up Tianmen Mountain near the city of Zhangjiajie, around 930 miles south-west of Beijing.
The ID R tackled Pikes Peak and Goodwood in a grey colour scheme in 2018, representing VW's initial official ID colour scheme. It then sported a blue livery for the Nurburgring and Goodwood this year, reflecting its links to Volkswagen's hot R division. Red has been chosen because it is a lucky colour in China.
The Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road, which is currently open only to buses, rises from 650ft to 4265ft above sea level, leading to Tianmen Cave at the top of the mountain.
Because the road has never been used for competition before, there's no record time for the ID R to break. Volkswagen will therefore stage an online gaming competition to allow participants to set a ‘virtual’ record, with the fastest time becoming the time for driver Romain Dumas to beat in September.
Volkswagen is also hoping that other firms will use the newly established course for record bids in the future. Stephan Wollenstein, VW's China boss, said he hoped the record attempt would "make Tianmen the place to develop electric cars, in order to achieve new dimensions."
Pikes Peak specialist Dumas believes a lack of knowledge will make this a different challenge. “So far, I only know the road from photos and a few videos,” he said. “The route is very winding, extremely narrow in places and very uneven.”
The ID R is powered by two electric motors, giving it a 0-62mph time of 2.25sec.
China is Volkswagen’s biggest market, with the firm operating several joint ventures in the country. It's gearing up to launch the production version of the first ID model based on its MEB platform and is developing several specifically intended for the Chinese market.