VW ID.R heads to Sonoma in search of a Mercedes-beating track record

Byron Hurd



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It's a new year, and that means we can look forward to seeing Volkswagen's all-electric ID.R racer attempt yet more records in its quest to be faster than anything that has driven, well, just about anywhere. Next stop? The Sonoma Speed Festival.

That may sound like hyperbole, but let's go to the highlight reel. Over the past few years, VW's tech showcase has obliterated records at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and even the up-and-coming Heaven's Gate in China. 

Some of these records have stood for decades, but that's not even close to the most remarkable thing about VW's attempts. That distinction goes to the cars that previously held these records, all of which were (like the ID.R, admittedly), purpose-built performance machines. 

The next stop on VW's tour of electric-vehicle dominance encapsulates that perfectly. The team is off to Sonoma Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) in California, where a Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 car set the track record in 2019. Yeah, you read that correctly. The ID.R isn't just challenging a F1 car record; it's challenging one set by racing hardware that is only a year old. 

“After setting the overall record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2018, we are looking forward to returning to North America to launch a new record attempt with the fully electric powered ID.R.,” said VW motorsport boss Sven Smeets.

The current lap record for the 2.52-mile track sits at 1:15.430 thanks to Esteban Gutierrez in the Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid. 

“Last year we watched the Sonoma Raceway track record topple during the inaugural Sonoma Speed Festival,” said event founder Jeff O’Neill in VW's announcement. “We are excited to see that record challenged yet again in 2020, this time by Volkswagen. The ID.R represents the future of motorsports and we are thrilled to share a glimpse of what is to come with our guests.”

The 2020 Sonoma Speed Festival will be held the weekend after Memorial Day, and VW's engineers and drivers are planning to get a couple of practice runs in before making a formal record-breaking run on May 31. 

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