Martin Rump first ever Estonian to race in Le Mans 24 Hours
Less than a fortnight after Jüri Vips made motorsport history by being the first Estonian to take the wheel of a Formula One car at a race meeting, another racing driver, Martin Rump, will set a new benchmark in being the first Estonian to start at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race this coming weekend.
"I'm completely speechless," Rump, 26, who only got the start after another team pulled out, said of the news.
"Taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours has been my dream since the start of my racing career. We worked this season towards earning a place at Le Mans for next year, but now we can start right away," he added.
Rump will be driving the Porsche 911 RSR-19, and will team-up with Alessio Picariello (Belgium) and Andrew Haryanto (Indonesia) for the arduous race.
Rump missed out on qualifying for the event for Chinese constructor Absolute Racing, with whom he competes in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) but the withdrawal of U.S. Team Hardpoint let in Absolute from the reserve list.
Rump will still officially compete under the Team Hardpoint name, but the car will be prepared and raced by Absolute, ERR's sports portal reports.
Rump remained realistic about his chances on the day, or rather, days.
"It is clear that with such a late invite, we are not expecting to get a victory right away. We have to find our rhythm first and not make any mistakes. At the same time, Le Mans that sort of race where all sorts of things can happen," he said.
"As a team, we had been aiming at our form for next year's race, so this year's race is good preparation for that," he went on.
This year's race starts on Saturday, June 4 at 5 p.m. Estonian time, finishing the same time on the Sunday.
Eurosport will be carrying live coverage.
As is standard, Rump will share driving duties in stints in the same car, with teammates Picariello and Haryanto, through the 24-hour race.
Next year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans/24 Heures du Mans will celebrate its centennial, while this year's event is the 90th to be held - no race took place 1940-1949. In recent decades, racecars appearing have undergone a variety of changes, as has the racetrack itself, the Circuit de la Sarthe, while the current Hypercar specifications have been in use since 2021.
Le Mans is one of six making up the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship, and the only one to last 24 hours - most of the remainder run six or eight hours in duration.
For this year's event, winners of the ELMS and several other series qualified automatically; as noted, Rump's team were initially on a reserve list and only got to race due to another team's withdrawal.
Martin Rump's career highlights include winning domestic and international karting series, competing in Formula Renault as well as the 2015 Sepang 12 Hours in Malaysia.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte