Not only did Romain Dumas become the first of his countrymen to triumph in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours when he ascended the top step of the rostrum in company with team-mates Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Bernhard on Sunday, but the Frenchman also succeeded in proving his pre-race conviction that Audi could
Post-practice and opening qualifying when Peugeot had led the way to the tune of almost five seconds, few had given Audi a prayer of taking the fight to its arch-rival in the race, let alone reaching the podium with one car, never mind all three. Dumas, however, insists he was always positive the Ingolstadt manufacturer could upset both the formbook and the home favourites and spring a surprise with its bulletproof R15 Plus TDi.
“For sure it's an unbelievable feeling,” he enthused, speaking to Crash.net Radio
at la Sarthe. “We were very lucky and we had a perfect race without any mistakes, and it was just a very good day. We knew we had reliability, and that was very important I think – and we had no problems on the car. It just kept running and running without any mistakes.
“It's always tough when the level is very high; everybody wants to win and everybody is pushing like hell, and in the end something nearly always happens. I knew we had a chance to win, even if nobody believed me. I said to some French press 'I will win the race', and they said 'no, you have no chance' – but it was true.”
Going on to opine that the pressure Audi was applying perhaps forced the Peugeot drivers to push too hard and to breaking-point, Dumas added that with the taste of the podium champagne barely gone, he has already turned his focus and attention to the next challenge.
“I don't know why they were pushing so hard,” reflected the 32-year-old Alès native. “For sure they took a lot of risks with the engine, when you see what happened in the end. We've all won at the Nürburgring, I've won Spa and Sebring, but I knew to win Le Mans would be very hard. Now that's done, so the last thing will be to win Daytona...”