Now Reading
Dumas, Dumez… It’s all the same. Good thing for Romain Dumas
HWA builds Mercedes 190 Evo II restomod
Radnor tells tales of the unexpected
Why you must visit this new museum
Oslo Motor Show goes full throttle
2023 Salon Privé: Pride of the Manceau
Here comes a 60-million Holy Grail
Festival of Speed Down Under
Ever seen a Dakar Porsche 959 strip?
Goodwood remembers Carroll Shelby
King of Gymkhana Ken Block (55) dies
In Tazio 6: Jimmie Johnson opens up
The first Tazio slipcase has arrived
Goodwood Members’ Meeting goes GT1
Masters Historic opens up to GT4 racers
And so, we bid farewell to Padova
Michael Andretti: like father, like son
When Mario saw Indy slip away again
One man, one car, one championship
Alfa Romeo celebrates 100 years of Monza
Bernina Gran Turismo shakes up the Alps
Get ready for Goodwood Revival
When the runway is not for taking off
On losing Chánh
Porsche Group C parade at Silverstone
Pebble Beach Concours on the move
Oldtimer GP is back in full force
Smokin’ the Festival of Speed
Impressions from the Mille Miglia
In Tazio 4: Walter by Christian
BRMs (and more) fly at Blyton Park
Retromobile 2022 is McLaren heaven
The Amelia praises Chip Ganassi
Now in Issue 2: Tazio’s hardest fight
Now in Issue 2: how Zagato met Ferrari
Keep it cool
Tazio 2, the limited one
Fuori Concorso: Stealing the light
See racing cars at the sea
Spa Six Hours: Thunder in the forest
Arriva Tazio: We drive the MG Metro 6R4
Group C roars at Jim Clark Memorial

Dumas, Dumez… It’s all the same. Good thing for Romain Dumas

View Gallery

Romain Dumas owed his first drive in the Le Mans 24 Hours to a misunderstanding. Team boss Manfred Freisinger was under the impression he had secured the services of Sebastian Dumez. Dumas jumped at the opportunity, and laid the foundations for a Le Mans career that would see him score two overall wins.

The LM GT category was one of two road-based classes featured in the 2001 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The entry list of this specific class was dominated by Porsche’s period GT racer, the 996 GT3 RS. In fact, the only non-GT3 RS in LM GT was a… Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Photo Porsche Archives


One of the teams utilising this immensely capable 911 was a team greatly associated with Porsche GT racing of the period, Freisinger Motorsport. The German team had entered a Porsche complete with an aggressive livery of blue and pink lightning streaks and sharp teeth lining the front end. In addition to this truculent aesthetic scheme, the Freisinger squadron had a diverse field of drivers that included the experienced Philippe Haezebrouck (known to some as Steve Brooks), the young American Gunnar Jeanette, and a mysterious third French driver…


Team boss, founder and namesake Manfred Freisinger had assumed that he had hired a French driver by the name of Sebastian Dumez. It was to his great surprise when a different Frenchman named Romain Dumas showed up at La Sarthe. It might be asked how Dumas was called up to drive the Porsche at that year’s Le Mans when the driving role had been seemingly given to Dumez.

Photo Porsche Archives

According to Romain Dumas, he was driving for Toyota SARD, a team equipped with Yokohama tyres, in the GT500 category of the JGTC championship in Japan. Dumas was suddenly notified by Yokohama that a Porsche with their tyres was going to race at Le Mans and that they would be interested in him driving for this entry. Dumas, a Porsche fanatic who spent four years of his childhood in residence at Le Mans, keenly accepted his first drive at one of motorsport’s triple crown.

Crash for Jeannette

You don’t have to worry about Dumez, who would also be at the start. Dumez was part of the three-men-crew in a Larbre run Porsche 996 GT3 RS that would finish in 10th place in the end. Young Romain Dumas’ start to the Le Mans week could not exactly be described as excellent. A shunt in qualifying withh his American teammate Gunnar Jeannette behind the wheel, saw the GT3 make a dramatic exit from the session.

Photo Porsche Archives

It was with great fortune that Jeannette was not injured. The same fortune, however, could not be applied to the car. From 11 at night on Thursday to the start of the race on Saturday, the Freisinger team had set about repairing the twisted shell of the 911. The heavily mended Porsche would commence its 24-hour-race from pit lane, not even joining its sportscar peers on the formation lap. This would prove to not be a great inconvenience for the starting driver, Dumas, who had total confidence in his car and led the class by the end of the first hour.

No radio

Dumas believed the rain-soaked start to the race from the pits was advantageous as he could simply spectate all of the crashes in front of him. There were still some slight snags to his immense progress at the beginning of the race, “The problem was the radio was not working. So I stayed out on slicks because I did not know what to do!”

See Also

Photo Porsche Archives

Just one lap down

Dumas’ crew kept the lead in LM GT right until Sunday morning when another one of the Fresinger drivers crashed into the gravel at Dunlop corner, ending their hopes for class victory. Nevertheless, once out of the sand trap, they managed to secure second position in the LM GT class, just one lap behind the winners Rosa – Babini – Drudi. Rather an impressive result from a squadron of which two drivers were making their first appearances at La Sarthe during an edition with conditions described by Dumas as “the worst 24 hours I drove in 23 years.”

Second win in 2016 with Porsche 919 Hybrid. Here, Romain Dumas is celebrating in the company of Wolfgang Porsche. Photo Porsche Archives

There was an upside. “There was so much rain, but this also gave you the opportunity to show what you were capable of as a young driver.” The Porsche factory noticed, and a works drive came his way. It would be the start of a very prolific career. Romain Dumas won Le Mans overall in 2010 with the Audi R15 TDI Plus and in 2016 with the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Next to that, he has a World Endurance Championship title and overall lap records at the Nürburgring, Pikes Peak and Goodwood under his belt. And all because of an accidental appearance in a privateer Porsche…

More on 100 years of the Le Mans 24 Hours here.

Or buy our special issue, dedicated to the Centenary of Le Mans. Now available.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.