Porsche ended its return season to top-flight prototype racing with a maiden victory, rewriting the history books and putting its longtime factory driver on the top step of the podium again.
Eight years ago, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard scored Porsche’s first overall victory for the LMP2 class RS Spyder in American Le Mans Series competition, yet it was Dumas that was part of the winning lineup as well in Sunday’s FIA WEC season-ending Six Hours of Sao Paulo.
For the 36-year-old Frenchman, who teamed with Marc Lieb and Neel Jani for the win in the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid, the taste of the champagne was even sweeter given the historical precedence.
“Somebody [on Sunday] morning came over and said, ‘Hey, you remember you won the first race with the RS Spyder [overall].” Dumas told Sportscar365. “They said it was possible for me to be the first one again to win. I said, ‘Hey, why not? I hope!”
Dumas delivered on Sunday, helping earn Porsche’s first overall victory in a major international prototype race since 1989 and the first major global outright win since the German manufacturer’s triumph in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998.
“Fortunately Timo in the other car had a good chance because he had a very strong stint,” Dumas explained. “But they had some issues and it went better for us during the race. We had good fun.”
It came in arguably the most exciting race of the FIA WEC season, which saw all six factory LMP1-H cars oftentimes separated by less than 60 seconds on track. All three manufacturers also led at one stage.
“It was very hard stints and very hard driving,” he said. “I enjoyed my stints a lot. There was a Toyota in the front or in the rear all the time, so we had to push, like we all did. It was very nice.
“You’re always more happy when you win, but I guess for everybody: spectators, fans, journalists, it was very exciting. It was exciting for us and for Porsche.”
Sunday’s victory capped off a remarkable first season of competition for the all-new Porsche LMP1 factory squad, which had overcome challenges of its own in the early stages of the 919 Hybrid’s development.
While the car began on-track testing in June 2013, it had to undergo a significant redesign due to engine vibrations, along with developing two different cutting-edge energy recovery systems for the new-look LMP1 class.
Remarkably, over the eight rounds, the pair of 919 Hybrids generated 3,592 kilowatt hours of electric power, which is enough energy to cover the electricity requirements for an average household for more than one year.
“People don’t imagine how complicated it is when you [don’t see it yourself],” Dumas said “Compared to how it was eight months ago to where we are today…
“For me, this is very important in my heart. This was huge and a really big win.”