Romain Dumas is at the top of his game. The French driver recently won, back-to-back, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (in the #2 Porsche 919 shared with Neel Jani and Marc Lieb) and the famous Pikes Peak hillclimb in the U.S. Several days ago, he was at the Le Mans Classic.
You have returned to Le Mans three weeks after your victory. How do you feel?
"June has been fantastic, simply incredible. On paper, I knew we had a chance to win, but I didn't expect the race to be so tight. I saw Audi having problems and that proved to be true. On the other hand, I didn't think Toyota was so fast, more like a good second behind us. Actually, they were at our level the whole time, if not better than us. We weren't perfect either, we messed up with the 'slow zones' and lost more time than them. Toyota was doing a lap better relative to fuel consumption. They had everything to make our life hard and to win. Unfortunately for them, they had that problem right at the end. It's a 24-hour race including an hour behind the safety car at the beginning. We could not have imagined an end more cruel for them. This race is not easy. With our car, everything went well, we switched for stints while taking on fuel and changing the tyres, the car didn't have a scratch on it. We did the race you have to do at Le Mans."
Then, another win this time at Pikes Peak in Colorado…
"I knew that there as well we could win. Honestly, I thought it would be a lot easier, and in the end, we had to deal with a bunch of small problems all over the car. After a lot of work, 30 hours without sleeping and with eagerness, we won. Even in the climb at the end I had some trouble with the turbo."
Could you please explain to us what is so special about Pikes Peak?
"To win Pikes Peak is like Le Mans, it's wonderful. There is a common denominator between Le Mans and Pikes Peak: you only have one chance. At Le Mans, when you break down, it's so close that right away you're out of the running. At Pikes Peak, if you make a mistake driving or there is a problem with the car, it's a done deal also. To me, Pikes Peak is more dangerous. Working conditions are different. You go from 240 people with the Porsche team to 13 with Norma. Also, the place is very unique. It's a mountain, you start at an elevation of 2,400 meters and finish at 4,400, so 2,000 of difference in altitude in less than nine minutes. The first 10 kilometers are very scenic, then it changes totally, it's very dry with a few grasses and marmots (laughs, editor's note). Up there it's completely lunar, with huge cliffs and rocks. Fortunately, the road is beautiful. There is real danger, but at the same time it's super exhilarating."
To be continued...
Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO