When Sebastien Loeb set a world record at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, many were stunned. After all, Loeb’s record time of 8:13.878 was more than a minute and a half faster than Rhys Millen’s winning time from the year before, and the 10-minute mark previously thought unattainable was a distant memory.
Loeb’s record seemed poised to stand for a long time—that is, until Romain Dumas came along.
Over his career, the 40-year-old Frenchman has claimed a number of accolades in sports car racing, but most recently, he’s become one of Pikes Peak’s most dominant figures. His Norma M20 RD Limited prototype claimed overall victories in the 2014, 2016, and 2017, posting an 8:51.445 in the second of those wins.
But it was with the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, a program assembled and brought to its fruition in under a year, that he shattered Loeb’s record.
Originally, the goal had simply been to break nine minutes, and to top Rhys Millen’s EV record of 8:57.118 set two years ago. After posting a qualifying time over 10 seconds faster than what his countryman had run five years ago, Dumas charged to the summit in 7:57.148—a mark over 16 seconds better than what Loeb had run in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak, and the first to ever clear the eight-minute barrier.
It was just the latest in a long line of successes for Dumas, who has become one of sports car racing’s most decorated drivers over the past two decades. The 2003 24 Hours of Spa represented his first major win, a feat he repeated in 2010; he also win the 24 Hours of Nürburgring four out of five times from 2007-2011. Racing for Team Penske in the American Le Mans Series, he and Timo Bernhard took back-to-back LMP2 class titles in 2007 and 2008, even taking an overall win at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring.
Making his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001, Dumas has competed in the iconic event every year since. He took his first overall victory in 2010 alongside Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller for Audi, and partnered with Neel Jani and Marc Lieb to win another for Porsche in 2016. He also added a class victory in LMGTE Pro with Lieb and Richard Lietz in 2013, also driving for Porsche.
In recent years, Dumas has diversified his racing program to include more types of racing, finishing second in the RGT class at the 2015 Rallye Monte Carlo and later winning his class at Rallye Deutschland. That adaptability behind the wheel has served him well at Pikes Peak, where drivers must not only conquer the high altitude and elements, but also a point-to-point race comprised of 156 turns over 12.42 miles of tarmac.
With the mission accomplished for both Dumas and Volkswagen, there’s plenty of excitement about what the legendary car and driver might do next. And while we’re a long way from the 97th running of the Race to the Clouds, wouldn’t it be amazing to see what the magnificent pairing could do on a second attempt?