As the motorsport season cools down, the Trophée Andros is revving up. After all, snow and ice are what makes this event so special. Having taken his fifth ice racing title, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg leads the full-time entries, driving the Motul-backed Renault Zoe electric car. During last weekend’s season-opener at Val Thorens, on a track set on roads around one of France's best ski resorts, we chatted with Jean-Baptiste and his father Dominique Dubourg, himself a former racer.
Gentlemen, we're currently at Val Thorens and you've just finished the first session. How was it for you and how was the track?
We have to remember that we took off this session as the winning team, so for the pilots, it is important that from the start they push hard to get a good position on the track so they can take a head start from the competition. The first day was a very nice day, but the second day was more difficult. The competition is fierce and the field is growing stronger every year. We have to work hard to stay on top.
This is the third season you'll be racing the Renault Zoe. How did the car evolve?
Unfortunately, with electric cars, there is less development and innovation possible compared to naturally aspirated engines. All the cars have the same technology under the hood. Of course, we can play with the balance of the chassis via the suspension settings, but apart from that, there is little room to play around. So we work meticulously on the chassis, where we had different evolutions over the years.
Claiming the championship title will probably be this year's ambition once again, but what's the team's strategy for the six pilots competing in seven races?
We have all the ingredients in-house for a winning cocktail; a good team of motivated pilots going for the win and the best-performing cars in the field. From our side, I think we gave it our all, so the team can win. Now it will be up to them to make it happen.
What is the benefit for DA Racing when collaborating with Motul?
Both companies have a long history in terms of collaboration. It started many years ago when we collaborated in the Trophée Andros, but also in the French, European and worldwide Rally Cross Championship. There we race with aspirated engines of course. In terms of lubrication, brake and cooling fluids, we benefit from one of the best products available on the market and the continuous support of Motul in our racing ambitions. In Rally Cross we also have the engine oil analysed in the Motul Racing lab. Our quest for performance just never stops!
There is a new and big name that joined your team: Romain Grosjean. How do you feel about this new team member?
It is a real honour to have him joining our ranks. We go a long way back already. Of course when he started racing in F1, there was not much time left to meet, but we always stayed in touch and met once in a while. Romain has a broad interest, certainly in exceptional challenges such as ice racing. We're very happy he accepted the challenge to race in our team.
The next race will be in Andorra. Is this a fast track for the Zoe?
The big difference between the two tracks is that Val Thorens requires a lot of braking and acceleration. On these short tracks, you can’t use the full potential of the chassis, compared to the Andorra track. So in Val Thorens, the chassis setup plays a smaller role in the final result. So yes, we hope to be on the highest stage of the podium in Andorra!