The most famous race on the planet is already here! The Le Mans 24 Hours 2022 is taking place this weekend (June 11-12) at the legendary Circuit of La Sarthe, as it has done since 1923. This 90th edition will be characterised by a return to normality in several aspects.
Following the two years of the COVID pandemic, the race returns to its traditional dates and will abandon capacity restrictions. Fans will fill the stands once again for that magical and unique atmosphere of the French track, the ‘Mecca’ of motorsports. 62 vehicles and 186 heroic racers will meet on the history-filled 13,626 meters of track to tackle an extremely tough and unparalleled challenge.
Hypercar: Alpine threatens Toyota’s hegemony
In competitive terms, this year’s edition is expected to be one of the most even and unpredictable in history. Toyota will be chasing its fifth consecutive victory (2018-2021) at the French round, but its supremacy in the newly released (2021) top category is faltering (LMH or hypercar).
The Japanese team, in fact, arrives at the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind Alpine in the WEC standings, a highly unusual position for them to be in. Toyota will line up the GR010 Hybrid #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose María López -winners in the 6 Hours of Spa this year- and the #8 of Sébastien Buemi, Brandon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa. In front of them, they will have to contend with the Alpine A-480 #36 of Andre Negrao, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Lapierre.
Funnily enough, this ‘old’ LMP1 has become the main challenger to the new prototypes. Winner of the 1,000 Miles of Sebring – the opening round of the WEC – and second in the 6 Hours of Spa, it is now a threat to the ‘Japanese Empire’.
The Glickenhaus 007 LMH #708 of Olivier Pla, Romain Dumas and Pipo Derani and the #709 of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Franck Mailleux will complete the hypercar grid. Be aware of the American squad, which surprised everyone with the pole in Spa.
LMP2: An abundance of quality competitors
In contrast with the small number of participants in the hypercar category at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2022, the LMP2s have 27 entries and a very high and paralleled quality.
In theory, the glory should go to the ORECA of United Autosport, JOTA Sport or WRT. At an individual level, one of the most prominent names on the grid is that of Robert Kubica. The former Polish Formula 1 driver will alternate behind the wheel of the Prema Racing Team #9 with Louis Deletraz and Lorenzo Colombo.
Another prominent contestant and former Formula One driver, Felipe Nasr, will team up with Dane Cameron and Emmanuel Collard aboard the Team Penske‘s #5.
Also to note is the WEC debut of Sébastien Ogier. The nine-time French World Rally Champion will share the Richard Mille Racing #1 with compatriots Lilou Wadoux and Charles Milesi.
GTE Pro: A duel Ferrari – Porsche with Corvette as guest of honour
Ferrari and Porsche are expected to delight fans with another of their tough battles in the GTE Pro category. Both teams arrive at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2022 with evenly matched strength. The Italians failed to be competitive at Sebring but reacted with a win at Spa. The AF Corse 488 GTE #51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado will now be joined by Daniel Serra.
Amongst their rivals will be table leaders Porsche 911 #92of Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen, winners at Sebring and runners-up at Spa, who will be chasing the glory again with the help of Laurens Vanthoor.
Also in the limelight will be Corvette Racing, which returns to the French racetrack with the CR.8s #63 of the Spaniard star Antonio García, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg and the #64 of Nick Tandy, Tommy Milner and Alexander Sims.
Images of Le Mans 24 Hours 2022: Toyota Gazoo Racing.