Taking more than 40 seconds off the previous fastest time, Romain Dumas drove the Volkswagen ID. R to a new EV lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on Monday.
He spoke with e-racing365 about his experience and his extremely busy schedule after his record-breaking run.
Romain, was this the most important achievement of your career?
“You always realize after the race how important it was. I said after winning at Pikes Peak last year that that was my biggest achievement, but today, I would probably say it again.
“The most impressive is how we improved the car in one year’s time. At Pikes Peak, everybody was surprised by the lap time we achieved.
“But today, we are able to gain 2-3 seconds during every run, playing a little bit with the limit, pushing it further and further. I am improving as a driver and the engineers are working harder to get to the limits.
“I would say we can continue like this, I would like to stay all week! Let’s see what we can still achieve… No, jokes aside, we have achieved what we wanted to get.
“What would be interesting, though, is to get back to Pikes Peak. With all the knowledge and the experience we have now, we could go even quicker there, I am sure.
“But I also want to thank everybody who was involved. You never achieve something like this on your own.
“The people at Volkswagen Motorsport, FX [Francois-Xavier Demaison], Sven [Smeets] and so on, they are always winning, they know what it is like. But in fact, it is really special.
“Dieter Depping was very important as well, he drove the car last week when I was not available and his input was highly valuable.”
How does this record compare to the one at Pikes Peak?
“I would say that here, there was a little bit less stress than at Pikes Peak, because here, you know you have a little more than just one shot, like over there. I really enjoyed it in the car.
“A difficult thing is that you have to be straight up to speed. We start just a few hundred meters before the line and then you have to do it.
“In terms of speed, we were getting quicker and quicker with every run, you have to adapt to that as a driver. You feel it after one or two corners, if you have the right speed.
“And then, during the lap, you have to keep the confidence to keep it up. I had the running lap time on the display in the car, so I saw that I was going quicker and quicker. With that knowledge, I pushed myself even more.”
What is the challenge in driving an EV around the Nordschleife?
“Each lap is an adventure. For instance, today was the very first time I took the long right-hand corner before the Doettinger Hoehe straight flat out.
“I have never done that before in a GT car or in previous testing with the ID.R. Pushing yourself to the next limit, that is the biggest challenge.”
How does the Volkswagen ID.R prototype compare to a GT car you are used to driving here?
“First of all, this car is much stiffer than a GT car. There is much more lateral grip. On the first run this morning, we already pulled almost 3G in a certain corner.
“That needs some getting used to. You have to adapt your driving style to go even quicker in a fast corner. Corners that are never flat with a GT car can be flat with this car.
“I would say that probably, your mind and your body are almost becoming the limiting factor, not the car or the engine.
“With a GT car, you know that you are on the limit when the car is starting to slide. In the ID.R, it is hard to establish where the limit is. With this car, you don’t slide, because if you do, the risk of losing it is huge.”
With Blancpain GT at Paul Ricard, the test day at Le Mans and this record run here at the Nordschleife all within four days, the last few days have been pretty crazy for you.
“Yes, you can say that! Now, I hope to have two to three days to relax, to wind down a bit and hopefully to catch up on sleep a bit.
“Then it is off to Le Mans. Our team is up for scrutineering on Sunday already, so then I have to be there.
“Then I stay at Le Mans all week, and after that, it is almost straight to the Nürburgring for the 24-hour race there the following weekend.”
And is it a little bit quieter after that?
“Not at all, because the weekend after that, I am in the US for the six-hour IMSA race at Watkins Glen.
“And coming back from that, there is the two-day test for the Spa 24 Hours. But hey, it is what I do, and I like it, so I don’t complain!”