The not unexpected news that Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas will step back from the Porsche team’s LMP1 programme was confirmed this morning after a season that brought the pair both an overall Le Mans win (Dumas’ second) and a Drivers World Championship aboard the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid together with long-time team-mate Neel Jani.
Both were long known to have been under scrutiny within the team, and latterly it was clear that their ultimate stint-long pace was not where it should have been. That should not get in the way though of their achievements to date, nor should it cloud what is still to come.
It’s been quite a journey for both men and, as today’s release makes clear, they aren’t done yet.
Romain Dumas was an accomplished single seater racer, testing both in F1 and Champcar before settling in at Porsche as a factory driver in 2003.
By then he’d already stood on the Le Mans podium twice, a brace of second place class finishes at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002 for Freisinger, starting what has been an unbroken run of starts at Le Sarthe since, before a career defining result came the following year, not at Le Mans that year, there he drove the LMP900 class Nasamax (above), instead it came with an historic result at the Spa 24 Hours where, in terrible weather he, together with Stephane Ortelli and Marc Lieb, the trio took the overall win in a GT2 spec Porsche in a field that included no fewer than 17 GT1 spec cars.
Since then his Le Mans record has seen a further GT2 class podium for Porsche, a GTE Pro class win in 2013 for Porsche as the LMP1 programme ramped up, an overall podium with Pescarolo and a unique modern era pair of overall wins with Audi, where he and Timo Bernhard were ‘loaned’ out as part of the Porsche preparations in 2010, and in 2016 with Porsche.
In the WEC the record shows wins in every year of the Championship, for Audi in 2012, in GTE Pro for Porsche in ’13 and as an ever present in the Porsche LMP1 squad since, 5 overall wins and that Le Mans class win in the 911 RSR in 2013.
There was another overall win at Spa in 2010 for BMS Scuderia Italia, above (together with class wins in 2002 and 2004). Four wins at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring with Manthey Racing, including a hat-trick from 2007-2009.
And let’s not forget the achievements in North America. Back to back ALMS Championship wins in 2007-8, 23 class and or overall race wins in the ALMS including an overall win at Sebring in the Porsche RS Spyder in 2008.
But Dumas has done so much more still with rally, rally raid and more on his cv.
That includes a pair of wins (plus a class win) at Pikes Peak, where he is reigning champion in his Norma Honda (below), and podiums, class and overall wins in national and international rallying, with a finish in the 2016 Dakar Rally, and a now confirmed entry in next year’s Dakar also writ large in his rather large book of results.
Mark Lieb meanwhile has been a Porsche factory man since signing as a Junior driver in 2000, wining Carrera Cup Germany back in 2002.
Whilst some of his major achievements have been shared with Dumas, the Spa win in 2003, the four Nurburgring 24 Hours wins for Manthey in 2007-09 and 2011 (above) and, of course the double Championship wins in the 919 Hybrid in 2016 at Le Mans and for the overall Drivers Championship, much of the rest of his career has been defined by consistent support and success in Porsche’s GT racing efforts.
A double FIA GT class champion in 2005 (above, with another class win at Spa that year too) and 2010, Le Mans Series class Champion in 2006 (below), runner up the following year and Champion again in 2010.
In North America there have been class wins in the ALMS and in Grand Am, and close to 20 podium finishes across the two, now united, Series.
In amongst that little lot there has been very little indeed in terms of racing with anything other than Porsche, aside that is from outings in V8 Supercars, with both Ford and Holden machinery, a podium in 2012 showing that Marc doesn’t necessarily need a flat six in the back to be competitive!
Three times Le Mans GT2 class winner in 2005 (below) , 2010 and 2013 (with the 2013 win again shared with Dumas) and with a further class podium too at Le Mans too.
In the FIA WEC his record from two years in GTE Pro brought him three class wins and a further five podium finishes, the LMP1 programme adding four overall wins (including the first for the 919 Hybrid at Interlagos in 2014), and eight overall podium finishes.
Whatever comes next for both Romain and Marc these are professionals of exceptional talent, great ambassadors for their teams, and for the sport as a whole.
There’s little doubt that this article will be dusted off and updated with many more successes when, sometime into the next decade, both men finally decide to give someone else a chance of winning!