Romain Dumas is one of those drivers who has done it all. He’s won Le Mans twice, conquered the Nürburgring 24 hours and been at the top of the Pikes Peak record board with an all-electric Volkswagen! At the Petit Le Mans, he’s sitting at the wheel of a Nismo powered Ligier DPi prototype and racing for Core Autosports, but just before the chequered flag he had some time to answer these five questions.
What’s your take on a track like Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta?
It’s an amazing track and definitely one of my favourites. The elevation changes make it a very challenging track for cars and drivers alike, and during this event we get to race at night as well. So, I’m really excited about this place.
You seem to switch seamlessly between a Pikes Peak prototype, a Porsche GT car, into a rally car and off to a DPi Nismo. Is it hard for you to adapt to these cars?
It’s a challenge, especially when braking because the braking distance of the prototypes is a lot shorter than with the GTs, so it takes a couple of laps to get your bearings, for sure. I personally think it’s a great advantage to be driving so many cars on so many different surfaces because you learn a lot as a driver, and you can take the techniques across the different platforms.
What’s it like to race up Pikes Peak, especially in an electric car?
Pikes Peak is an amazing place. The funny thing about Pikes Peak is that it’s more famous in Europe than it is in the US. At Pikes Peak you’re not racing your competitors - of course, it is also a competition - but your biggest opponent is the mountain itself. That road is so challenging, and the weather is completely unpredictable. Driving up the hill with the IDR was an incredible experience but it was also very challenging. Mainly because the car has no classic six or seven-speed gearbox. When you’re racing up the hill banging through the gears, the action of shifting adds some sort of rhythm to the process. Without that you’d only have your visual cues to guide you. So that made it a bit trickier than I expected.
For the last few years you have been at the forefront of the R-GT category in the WRC. Why does this mean so much to you compared to regular WRC rally cars?
When we started our campaign to promote the R-GT category, the WRC cars were far from spectacular at the time. They were fast but they didn’t move around as much as they should, and it wasn’t a nice show to look at. This is something that a lot of teams, organisers and manufacturers often forget - there needs to be a good show for the spectators. Seeing rear-wheel driven GT or sports cars smash through a rally stage is one of the best spectacles in motorsport and I strongly believe that it should play a more important role in the WRC - so we keep on pushing.
As if all these adventures weren’t enough, you’re also preparing to tackle another Dakar?
Yes! I’ve done the Dakar a couple of times before and this year I’m going at it with my own team. The Dakar really is one of the greatest challenges in Motorsport so I’m really looking forward to tackling the dunes again.