Pikes Peak, Qualifying : Fastest provisional time for Romain Dumas…
In his third participation in the legendary Pikes Peak event, Romain Dumas claimed the fastest provisional time in qualifying, taken from the lower portion of the mountain road. Driving his Norma M20 « RD Limited », the Alès native was on course the same morning as his Unlimited class competitors, while other classes, including electric class vehicles, will qualifying on this portion on Thursday and Friday. Vincent Beltoise, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS also prepared by Romain Dumas Rallye Team, signed the second time in the « Time Attack 1 » class.
Romain Dumas began his « Race to the Clouds » week with the traditional technical verifications and a shakedown on the Pikes Peak International Raceway. On Tuesday, he took part in the first official session, which took place on the first (lower) sector. « These two runs went well even though I lacked overall grip, » he explains. « The rain that fell the night before didn’t help things as the surface was greener than last year. This allowed us to find a few adjustments to make, and a few settings to fine-tune for the race. It was a positive and enlightening return to the course.»
On Wednesday, Romain Dumas took part in qualifying for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which is held on the bottom portion of the road and determines the starting order for race day. Driving his Norma M20 « RD Limited », he improved his 2013 time by 6 seconds (3 :37.525 versus 3 :43.556), giving him the fastest time in the Unlimited class, and fastest provisional overall time.
« Overall, I’m satisfied with qualifying » admits Romain. « With each run, we progressed, and we erased any slow points from the day before. There are still a few details to refine, but the car’s handling is good, the team is working efficiently and the performance is where we expect it to be. I’m looking forward to driving in the other sectors to, hopefully, confirm these good first impressions. It’s a good thing to have the fastest provisional time in qualifying, but I’m curious to see what the other classes will do, specifically the electric prototypes which seem very competitive, some of which are prepared by big manufacturers. »
For his first experience of the Pikes Peak event, Vincent Beltoise wasted no time in getting to the front. The Frenchman, entered under the Romain Dumas Rallye Team banner, consistently progressed in each run, improving his time by a handful of seconds. Second in the Time Attack 1 class during the first practice, he confirmed his potential by signing the second fastest time in qualifying, less than five seconds off the « pole » giving him the third fastest time overall provisionally.
« So far everything has gone well here » underlines the Pikes Peak rookie. « We really improved the car since yesterday and it suits me well. I’m really enjoying my time behind the wheel, the team is working really well and the ambiance is excellent. Romain’s advice is precious and is helping me take on this challenge under the best conditions possible. I’m thrilled to be here and I’m taking advantage of every moment. I gained confidence as the day progressed and I’m now really excited to discover the rest of this mountain. »
Competitors in other classes besides « Unlimited » and « Time Attack » will qualify on Thursday and Friday, while Romain Dumas and Vincent Beltoise will complete two final practice sessions, on the second and third sectors.
The 92nd edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be held on Sunday, June 29.