Peter Dumbreck achieves a new record at the Nordschleife with an electric sports car

Peter Dumbreck, who has been competing in the VLN for the Falken team since many years, achieved a new fastest time for road vehicles with the Nio EP9 at the Nordschleife. What is special about this: The Chinese super sports car which is produced in a limited edition is an electric vehicle. Its key data, however, are indeed interesting: four electric motors, 1,360 HP in total, a torque of four times 1,480 Nm, 313 km/h top speed and a stiff price of 1,48 million dollars. In an interview with VLN.de, Dumbreck reports about his record drive, the development of electric cars and the differences to a VLN race car.

6:45.9 minutes for the 20.8 kilometres lap at the Nordschleife – the Nio EP9 is the fastest road vehicle in the “Green Hell”. At what point did you realise that this could turn out to be a lap record?
I completed the total of four laps. Lap by lap, I was able to push harder as I identified the points on the track where I had the best grip. Before the third lap, we applied some smaller changes on the car. This third lap already was really good and I was sure that I would be able to set a time below 6:50 minutes. Unfortunately, I encountered some problems with the batteries at the Döttinger Höhe and could not complete that lap. Yet, the evaluation of the data demonstrated that I would have made it in 6:48 minutes. In my last lap then, I took even some bigger risks to improve my time. I was very happy for the team that finally we still made it at the end of the day. Five minutes only after I got out of the car, it started to rain.

Would it have been possible to be even faster if you had had more laps?
The big difference between the road vehicle Nio and a VLN race car is that you cannot change the set-up to make the car faster. I had to find the right balance to drive as fast as possible but without taking too big risks. I had only four laps to set the fastest time and was able to improve my time from 7:01 minutes to 6:45 minutes. I think that we could have been even faster. On the other side, who would ever succeed in completing the perfect lap at the Nordschleife?

This year, you are competing in several VLN races in a Falken-BMW M6 GT3. What are the differences between the GT3 and the Nio?
The big differences to the BMW M6 GT3 are the low engine noise and less gear changes in the Nio EP9. It is easier to drive the Nio but you need to get used to the start. As soon as you activate the throttle pedal, you are busy in accelerating, braking and steering. The set-up of the M6 is adapted to the Nordschleife, the car absorbs the bumps much better and the roadholding is very good due to the aerodynamics. The Nio is very stiff so that you can at all manage the weight of 1,735 kilograms. But that makes it very difficult for the driver to control the vehicle on the fast and bumpy sections of the track.

No gear changing means no engine brakes. How difficult was it for you to control this?
The brakes in the Nio are excellent, partly due to the tremendous downforce which it develops. The speeds of the Nio in the corners are similar compared the ones of a GT3 car. But the additional push at the exit of the corners brings the electric vehicle much more quickly onto higher speeds. This is why sometimes I was too hard on the brakes in medium fast and faster corners.

Could you imagine competing in races at the Nordschleife with an electric vehicle?
I think that a great deal of development work in the technology of the batteries is still required until we arrive at this point. Some huge progresses have however already been made in the last years. Perhaps it is possible in the nearer future to have a battery-powered race car which is able to complete a one hour stint at a suitable speed. I will probably have retired by then but I will follow the development very closely.

You will compete in the Nürburgring 24h Race next week. How will it feel for you to be back at the Nordschleife in your usual race car?
I am very much used to get out of one car and to get into another one. You have to adapt to driving each car slightly differently but that is not a problem. The Nio is definitely the bigger step into the future.