24 Hours of Le Mans: “I’m lucky to be in a car with which I can still win” says Romain Dumas

At 44, Alésien is still in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race which will start on Saturday 11th June, for the 22nd time in a row! A longevity that only moves him …

This weekend you are celebrating your 22nd consecutive participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A record series!

(Henri) Pescarolo holds the record … In fact, it doesn’t mean anything to me (laughs)! Really. If I were to participate to participate … There, I still have a chance to be in a car with which I can still win. I’ve never experienced it, just being there to participate; perhaps in 2003, with the Nasamax team, or in 2018, with the fourth Porsche factory car (withdrawn each time). I am lucky to always be able to achieve a result.

What do you remember, your first, in 2001?

I remember it all as if it were still there. I remember the weighing, how they brought me back. Already at that time, I remember being contacted by one of your classmates Free lunch. Just like today.

In 2001, were you a driver for the Porsche factory?

No, but that’s how I got into it. I was racing in Japan in a Toyota with Yokohama tires, and in a fortnight I was in Le Mans with a car with Yokohama tires that was … a Porsche. It rained a lot that year, I pointed out, Porsche saw me and made me sign my first contract, two months later.

So you’re celebrating your 20th birthday with Porsche too!

The first contracts, Porsche paid me on the run, in 2001. And my first annual contract was signed in 2003. There, I had a real role in my hands. I still have a year to celebrate my 20th birthday in 2003 …

Your two wins, where do you put them on your list?

When you run into resistance, it’s the one you dream of the most, obviously. But the victory in Sebring (USA), with a smaller car, the Spyder (Porsche), over Peugeot, Audi and company, in 12 hours, not 24, was also an incredible race (in 2008). Pikes Peak was also a great satisfaction … But it’s true, Le Mans, when you’re French, with this podium …

… Know that you have won most endurance races.

Yes … But Le Mans is still “the” race, especially for a Frenchman. Finding an audience this year, after the previous two editions without, is still something to live for.

And take the exit with, always, possibilities of podium …

This is crazy! I fight for it every day. I said to myself this morning when I woke up: you’ve been doing this for 20 years, you’re under the pressure of the result, it’s physically hard … But when you’re on the track, you don’t think.

The stable Glickenhaus, which started from scratch two years ago, is a strange adventure …

Ah … it’s so much more than that! It’s a bit like the electric Volkswagen: when we got to Goodwood (a speed festival in England, editor’s note), they first laughed at us! James Glickenhaus could have put his team up another goal, but he decided to take his place on the field. And now he’s become a paddock star! Everyone comes to take a picture with him.

Last year you finished at the foot of the podium (5th), with the last twelve hours of madness; in Sebring, you are also …

Last year, after a few hours, we were far behind, I couldn’t imagine ending. And we came back well. This year we need to start better. Sebring (3rd behind Alpine and Toyota in the US), and Spa (9th in Belgium), where we were in action, are six-hour races, not 24, not comparable.

On the day of the test, last weekend, you had a great time …

I think in performance, we are there, in the game. In a misunderstanding, we don’t know what will happen. We’re not favorites, but it’s still a year where we have a chance, we have to take it!

How long will you be at the start of the 24 hours?

(Laughs) Of course, of my generation, we don’t run much anymore. While it works, projects come out …

Forget about 24 Hours. The Dakar has presented its 2023 edition this week. Will you be out?

Don’t think so! There (the interview took place on Tuesday evening, he was at his hotel, ed.), I’m in front of the computer, and I’m working in the Dakar …

22 participations since 2001, and two victories

Romain Dumas is truly an endurance rider … enduring! This Saturday will begin the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the 22nd consecutive time.

The record, 33, is held by Henri Pescarolo (4 victories). Alésien, a two-decade-old Porsche factory driver, won the event in 2010, driving an Audi, then 2016, this time with a Porsche.

After Duqueine (2019), Rebellion (2020) and Glickenhaus, last year he returns with this American James Glickenhaus team with a real chance of getting a new podium at Le Mans.

A career in endurance testing that does not stop Alésien, head of the RD Limited team, from multiplying projects such as the Dakar.

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