Romain Dumas begins a new challenge in his career with the arrival of the Porsche 919 Hybrid. (En Français)
The longtime Porsche factory pilot was one of the first drivers confirmed in the new works LMP1 program, alongside Timo Bernhard, although the longtime co-drivers are in separate cars this year.
While Dumas and co-drivers Marc Lieb and Neel Jani had a difficult debut outing at Silverstone, last weekend’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps saw the No. 14 Porsche claim pole and lead the early laps until dropping back with an electrical gremlin.
Endurance-Info caught up with Dumas to get his thoughts on the first two races and the progress made with the all-new prototype contender.
Has the season meet your expectations?
“For us, every six-hour race is a new beginning. At Spa, our objective was to see the amount of tire degradation after the first stint. We expected to suffer a bit more with this than others. In practice, I was able to run lap times in the 2:02 range for 14 consecutive laps.
“We had the same car at Silverstone. The front hub has been changed due to the problem in England and the transmission has been reworked.”
Is the car fun to drive?
“We still have to improve. At Spa, the objective was for both of the 919 Hybrids to finish, which we did. Porsche takes the LMP1 program very seriously.
“Matthias Mueller, the President of Porsche, was there to monitor the progress of the cars. He had breakfast at the hotel with the technical staff of the team. There is a real commitment and a real desire to do well.”
How is the chemistry within the organization?
“There was a fear a year and a half [ago] but that is now dissipated. The reaction to make things happen is there. It’s not important to look at what Toyota and Audi are doing. The objective was clear from the start: to finish races.
“Porsche’s big strength is its responsiveness. I experienced this at Penske. There are not dozens of stakeholders taking into account the drivers’ opinions. Many of the staff came from Formula One. Since then, the attitudes have changed.”
We can see that the Porsche has very good speed…
“The 919 Hybrid is very quick in a straight line, which makes overtaking easier. It was the case with Audi over the Porsche RS Spyder in the U.S.
“Everyone expects Porsche to do well but for now we have to finish races and not forget the problems that both Toyota and Peugeot had in their programs’ infancy.”
Were you pleased with your performance at Spa?
“I’m glad I was able to complete my first race with the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Unfortunately, we had an electrical problem when I was on-track. It cost us a podium finish.
“At the end of the race, it was clear that we could not double stint the tires, but maybe do a stint and a half with a splash and dash at the end.”