Big Dakar experience for Romain Dumas !
After a year highlighted by a third place finish in the World Endurance Championship and victory at Pikes Peak, Romain Dumas began his 2015 with a new challenge : competing in the Dakar alongside Ecurie du Cœur and Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque driving a buggy for Team MD Rallye Sport. Never giving up, the Alès, France native showed his ability to adapt to a terrain that was totally unknown to him. But, with his co-driver François Borsotto at his side, Romain was forced to retire as the pair took on the 10th stage thanks to a broken gearbox. Now it’s time to head to the Rallye Monte Carlo !
« A great human adventure and improbable situations! »
For his first experience in rally raid, Romain Dumas began in the right way. With an impressive first stage run on January 4th for the 19th fastest time in the Optimus buggy no. 330, he impressed more than a few Dakar specialists ! What came next would be more difficult, with the French driver alternating between days with mechanical woes and days with positive performances. Never giving up, and proudly representing the Ecurie du Cœur, Romain Dumas and François Borsotto reached the rest day, despite the problems encountered and a hellish marathon stage. Finally, on the morning of the 10th stage, the pair were forced to face the end, with the gearbox definitively broken.
« After this retirement, I’m of course disappointed » admits Romain. « Disappointed for our team because after all that effort, we wanted to reach the finish. I’m also disappointed for Ecurie du Cœur because we wanted to carry their flag all the way to Buenos Aires. I hate to say it, but that’s racing and we have to accept it. I’m a competitor and I’m not the type to give up…I think François and I showed this when we surmounted all of the obstacles we encountered on our path. I was headed into the unknown, but I lived a great human adventure and experienced improbable situations. Looking back on it, paradoxically, it will be one of the best moments. »
More so than the sporting aspect, where Romain Dumas was able to adapt in order to take on the Dakar for the first time, it was the people he met along the way who marked his experience the most. « In terms of driving, I was forced to sometimes change things drastically » he explains. « I learned patience and to temper my tendency to push. With the help of François’ experience, I think I showed a part of my potential in a discipline where you don’t necessarily expect it. We were sometimes in the fight for good finishes, but I would have liked to be higher up in the running order. I think we had the capability to do just that. On the other hand, I knew I was in discovery and learning mode. We had a lot of issues. We changed driveshafts, wheels, even drove without power steering…but we didn’t get beached in the dunes as much as I thought we would. But if we made it all the way to Calama, it’s thanks to the Argentinians, Chileans and Bolivians. In 46 degree celsius heat (in the shade !), a local spectator gave us the energy to continue on by bringing us water. It was also the locals who helped us get out of river as we were soaking wet and stuck. How nice these people were was absolutely incredible and I will always remember that. At one point, I was wearing their hat and they had my driving gloves on ! There are so many stories. »
Romain Dumas will now turn his attention to the Rallye Monte-Carlo, with recce starting Monday, January 19. The Dakar chapter is now closed for now. « Will I go back ? I don’t know because many factors have to come together » he admits. « It happened this year and I want to thank Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque and MD Rallye Sport for giving me the opportunity to take on this challenge. I started a new chapter. If it continues on, it will be with ambitions, that’s the only thing that is certain today. »
About Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque
Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque helps children with cardiological malformations from impoverished nations be treated in France when it is otherwise impossible in their own country due to lack of technology or finances. Housed by volunteer host families and surgical procedures taking place in nine French cities (Angers, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Tours), more than 2,500 children have been helped since the association’s creation in 1996 by Francine Leca and Patrice Roynette.