Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Romain Dumas sets altitude record in e-fuel Porsche 911

Romain Dumas is no stranger to driving up mountains as a four-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion and its record holder for the fastest time ever. He can now say he also did it on a volcano.

On 2 December, Dumas piloted a modified Porsche 911 along the west ridge of the Nevado Ojos del Salado, a dormant volcano in the Andes in Chile. Ascending to 6,734 metres above sea level, he set the world record for the highest altitude that a four-wheeled car has driven up.

“I’ll never forget this experience,” said Dumas. “It was an extraordinary feeling to drive where no car has gone before. The 911 managed to go higher than any other earthbound vehicle in history. We reached a point where we were met by the true summit of the west ridge – we could go no higher. So this really was the maximum altitude that can be achieved. A proud moment for the whole team, and we’re grateful for the support and belief of all of our partners, each of whom made this possible.”

Two 911s, nicknamed Doris and Edith, were produced by RD Limited for the effort. Each car was powered by e-fuels created by Porsche’s partner HIF Global. Mobil 1, BFGoodrich, TAG Heuer, and Schaeffler Group were also involved. Dumas drove Edith, which is lighter.

Modelled after the Porsche 911 carrera 4S, the car features a 443-horsepower, three-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine. The motor and transmission are stock, while changes ncluded the addition of carbon fibre seating, portal axles to increase ground clearance to 350 mm and reduce the gear ratios, and the introduction of underbody shielding to protect from rocks. Schaeffler Group also installed a steer-by-wire system that allows it to steer without needing a steering column.

Porsche previously attempted to set the record in 2022, reaching just over six thousand metres up Ojos del Salado but were set back by snow. The weather was more cooperative in 2023, though boulders still got in the way. By the end, it took Dumas twelve hours and twenty-eight minutes to hit his peak. The previous world record was 6,694 metres set by Unimog on the volcano in 2020.

“Congratulations to the whole team. A remarkable and inspiring achievement,” commented Porsche AG executive Dr. Frank Walliser. “This project began as a what-if and I’m so proud to work for a company that really believes in pushing the boundaries and learning by exploring. The two 911 models that were used on this expedition were powered by eFuels, which are produced in the HIF pilot-planned ‘Haru Oni in Punta Arenas’, which was initiated by us, and are blended per the currently applicable fuel regulations afterwards.”

Dumas has enjoyed a decorated racing career that includes two 24 Hours of Le Mans wins and racing in legendary off-road events like the Baja 1000 and Dakar Rally. 2024 will see his eighth Dakar.