Lego Car of the Week: the Volkswagen I.D. R. - how did it beat Loeb?
When I started this series of cars, I said I would focus on Le Mans cars. Then I did the 919 Evo. That never raced in Le Mans, nor will it ever, but the link to Le Mans is pretty obvious.
Now, the I.D. R. I'll be honest: doing this car wasn't my idea, but rather a suggestion on Twitter. I realize two things then: first of all, the I.D. R most likely shares a platform with the 919, and second of all it is a cool and pretty car, and after all that's my series of Lego car! So to hell with it!
Weirdly, I feel that the I.D. R has had a bit of an understated career so far. First of all, VW never talked about beating the overall Pikes Peak before they actually went and did that. Officially, they were there to beat the electric record. And the stats seemed to line up with that: although 675hp for 1,100kg may sound like a whole lot, remember that Loeb's Peugeot 208 T16, made 875hp for 875kg. That's 200hp more for more than 200kg less. On paper then, the I.D. R had no chance.
But it then famously obliterated a record that many thought would stay for many more years, doing the 20km run in 7:57.148, the first car to climb up Pikes Peak in less than 8 minutes. Thats over 15 seconds faster than Loeb's record.
Now, I have a bit of a theory about that. First, there's the easy first one: VW might not have been completely honest about the power figures. After all, with no regulations of any sort and no imperative to disclose any thing, they could easily have downplayed the performances of the car, just as they did with what I believe were their true goals.
Between the massive wing, and the black-hole style diffuser, it must have flattened the mountain with downforce!
Secondly, there's the aerodynamics. Although the 208 T16 was a very impressive car and it shared many parts with the Le Mans-winning 908, it was made to look like a squashed road car. But looking at the I.D. R, the Le Mans lineage gets very obvious. And the downforce too: once you took in how insane that rear wing truly is, you get to the truly tasty part: the enormous venturi channels that run under the car, and the skirts that seal them. I can't even think of the gigantic amount of downforce that can create. All that in a much more slippery shape overall.
The third reason has been the main one put forward by Volkswagen: electricity-powered don't loose power as they get higher into thinner air, but the conventional ICE ones do. So up there, the I.D. R might very well have been producing more power than the 208 T16.
Whatever may the explanation be, all that remains is a stunning record, and a true milestone for electric cars. And then it went and did it all over again at Goodwood, becoming the faster electric car to go up the hill there -- and from Dumas' own admition, it could have very well have beat the overall record. If they weren't concerned with, you know, bringing the car back.
I have only one regret though: not seeing the 919 Evo and the I.D R face off. I'm pretty sure the Porsche would win, but can you imagine how cool that would have been? The I.D. R on the Nürburgring and the 919 Evo up Pikes Peak... Volkswagen Group are on a motorsport roll, I think they currently have the fastest car ever made, and the fastes EV ever made. Props to them!
Overall I have to say that I'm very pleased with how it looks in Lego form! It was a really challenging one, pushing me to try things I never had before. And that's why I do these Lego builds, really!
I'll be posting instructions for this car next Sunday, so if you want to build yours, come back then! You can also see how to build my Lego 919 Evo here:
Feel free to give me suggestions for next Le Mans-style cars in the comments below! I absolutely cannot guarantee I'll build them, but I promise to at least seriously consider all your suggestions.