Martin Rump, the first ever Estonian to have competed in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans/24 Heures du Mans race was running a creditable fifth in his category in the small hours of Sunday.
Racing a Porsche 911 RSR-19 for Hardpoint Motorsport in the LMG GTE Am category, Rump told ERR's sports portal after his first three-hour stint that: "It has been a very powerful first experience. Oddly enough, I was surprisingly calm before the start. However, I got the focus in the right place and as I started driving, I also found the right rhythm relatively quickly. Those three hours went by very fast"
Rump and his Belgian teammate Alessio Picariello bore the brunt of the night racing, of which he said: "The darkening track is a kind of ordeal, because first the more powerful classes of machines come into the mirror with full lights on, and the driving technique has to be changed in line with the falling temperature. During the first shift, it turned out perfectly for me," Rump said.
As of 8 a.m. this morning Estonian time, Rump had completed a total of 84 13.6-km laps at the Circuit de la Sarthe, in a time of 3.52,990.
At around 7.30 a.m. Sunday, Rump, who had had no sleep through the night, told ERR he was: "Very glad that from a personal point of view, the drives have gone well. I didn't want to make any silly errors. As a new driver, I wanted to put in as perfect a shift here as possible."
"The whole team has been happy with my performance. The second shift went more smoothly and I was able to model things out the first shift and then set the second run accordingly. It was definitely difficult to sleep at night, from a mental perspective, because I received the toughest hours, between one and four in the morning."
At the time of writing, the team's third driver Andrew Haryanto (Indonesia) was up to third in the category, which comprises over 20 entrants, and 38th in the field overall.
The Le Mans 24 Hours ends Sunday at 5 p.m. Estonian time. A live update is available here.
Rump and his teammates are only competing thanks to a last-minute withdrawal which means that, while the Estonian competes for Chinese constructor Absolute Racing in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the team is running under the Hardpoint colors, i.e. the team that pulled out, but with Absolute's personnel.
Le Mans is one of six races on the the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, but the only one to last 24 hours. The the races are mainly six or eight hours in duration.
Rump's other career highlights to date include wins in domestic and international karting series, competing in Formula Renault and also the 2015 Sepang 12 Hours in Malaysia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte