Volkswagen will support the entry of an ID.4 in the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 on April 25-29.
The electric SUV will be raced by Tanner Foust and writer and off-road racer Emme Hall during the event, which Volkswagen hopes will “show the capabilities and performance of an EV in an extreme environment”.
Four-time US rallycross champion Foust, who took the most recent of his crowns behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle in 2019, will drive the rear-wheel drive machine while Millen’s eponymous Rhys Millen Racing outfit has modified it for competition.
“It’s exciting to be part of an ambitious challenge like this that pushes the limits of electric vehicles,” said Foust.
“We’ve learned a lot about the capabilities of the Volkswagen electric vehicle hardware in an environment that’s tough for any vehicle, and it’s performed well beyond our expectations.”
The car will retain its stock drivetrain, with its 82kWh battery and 201bhp dual-motor setup being put through the ultimate test on the 1100-mile contest.
Charging will be handled by a portable biofuel generator mated to a 50kW portable fast charger but, with the race being split into loops as a result of COVID-19 protocols, the team is aiming to complete 98% of the race without needing to recharge.
Under the skin Millen’s team has stripped the car of all non-essential fittings, while also bolstering it to handle the demands of off-road racing – that includes moving the radiator and equipping the car with a roll cage, racing seats and additional screens to relay key info such as battery condition.
At each corner there are rally-style coil-over struts and tubular lower control arms in the front and boxed lower rear links, plus 18-inch wheels wrapped in off-road tires in place of the production model’s 19-inch wheels. The car also rides two inches higher than standard.
“It takes great confidence and preparation to present a stock-based vehicle to the starting line of a race like this, especially an electric one like the ID.4,” said two time US rallycross event winner an multiple Pikes Peak record holder Millen.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the ID.4 has taken to the terrain.”
Foust added: “We worked closely with Volkswagen engineers to find the right driving style for various types of terrain that could hit the balance of speed and battery consumption.”
“It’s early days for competing with electric vehicles, but we already have several ideas of what we’d like to do next year.”