Creating a "circuit" in the streets of Paris with a distance identical to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (13.6 kilometers) to be driven by a 100% electric car was certainly a challenge. But the end result was magical: start and finish at the Trocadéro, the Place de l'Etoile at the Arc de Triomphe, the Marché St-Honoré, the Chatelet, the Place Vendôme, the Champ de Mars, the rue de Rivoli, the Invalides, the edge of the Seine. On Sunday morning of the excursion, the sky was overcast and it was looking like rain, echoing the atmosphere for Porsche's first win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970.
Shortly before noon, the Musée de l'Homme, the Musée de la Marine, souvenir shops and sandwich stands were relatively quiet at the Trocadéro esplanade. But then a few Porsche jackets, 24 Hours of Le Mans logos and even Red Bull Racing shirts could be spotted. At 12:10, the rain died down. Escorted by a few Cayennes, the 919 Hybrid Evo emerged on the scene. To navigate Parisian cobblestones, the body height of the German prototype was at its max. After two laps, Romain Dumas parked in front of the esplanade and was rushed by the crowd.
"It's definitely beautiful, with wonderful shots in front of the Trocadéro, going up the Champs-Elysées, the Etoile roundabout," described the two-time 24 Hours winner (2010 with Audi and 2016 with Porsche) who graciously availed himself for autographs, photos and other selfies in a super fun atmosphere once the rain let up.
"I hadn't driven the 919 since the 6 Hours of Bahrain in 2017," Dumas added. "Today, I didn't go more than 50-60 km/h." Thanks to the car's three consecutive victories at Le Mans (2015, 2016 and 2017), 14 other wins and six world titles in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), it holds a special place in the German manufacturer's history. And now counts itself on the long list of legendary Porsches Romain Dumas has driven. "I think I've driven almost every car in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. When you drive them, you notice their strengths more depending upon the circuit. Some had great engines, others excellent gearboxes. The 919 Hybrid, for example, had a fantastic engine."
I hadn't driven the 919 Hybrid since the 6 Hours of Bahrain in 2017.Romain Dumas
With Romain Dumas driving the 919 Hybrid Evo through some of the most prestigious areas of Paris - which remained open to other traffic, let's not forget - how long would he estimate a lap of the 13.6-kilometer "circuit" to be in race conditions? His answer caused the crowd to erupt in laughter: "Maybe five minutes...taking into account those Parisian cobblestones!"
ILLUSTRATION: After the circuits at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), the Nordschleife (Germany), Brands Hatch (Great Britain) and Laguna Seca (U.S.), as well as the cities of New York and Shanghai, the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo took a unique 13.6-kilometer lap of Paris that was designed as a direct nod to the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit.
BREAKING NEWS: THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS POSTPONED TO 19–20 SEPTEMBER 2020