A crucial year before the centenary

Free of sanitary gauges from Wednesday to Sunday, the 2022 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has everything from a crucial race a year before the competition’s centenary and the return of historic manufacturers.

The mythical long-distance car race finds its audience in full force.

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The mythical endurance auto race returns to its full audience this year after closing the door in 2020 and last year’s health gauge imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Endurance lovers and Manceaux (…) will again be able to celebrate + their + 24 Hours at Le Mans”, welcomes Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizer of the race. The return of the downtown weigh-in, pilots’ parade and all high-profile activities is an event in itself.

Return of the spectators, then, but not the big names of motorsport: Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Cadillac… All of them will compete in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2023 and will meet at the Sarthe circuit a hundred years later the first race.

French manufacturer Peugeot, which wanted to ensure it had a reliable car in the premier class of hypercars, will only enter the championship after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Favorite Toyota

In their absence, Toyota ruled the race, finally overcoming its legendary bad luck and winning the last four editions at Le Mans.

Also this year the favorite for success is the Japanese team with its N.7 hypercar, driven by Briton Mike Conway, Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and Argentinian José Maria Lopez, who finally won last year after several misfortunes .

The main competitor of the Toyota N.7 might even be the… Toyota N.8, driven by Swiss Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley from New Zealand and Rio Hirakawa from Japan.

After two races, however, the manufacturer is not leading the WEC championship led by the French Alpine team, thanks in particular to the victory of its hypercar with Brazilian André Nagrao and Frenchmen Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxivière in the 1000 miles. from Sebring (USA).

“After two races, the battle for the title in the hypercar category remains very open and the race at Le Mans could well set the direction in which the championship will go,” notes Richard Mille, President of the International Federation of Automotive Endurance Commission (FIA).

Alongside Toyota and Alpine, American team Glickenhaus, which takes its name from its founder, New York director and producer James Glickenhaus, will again field two hypercars that will attempt to defy the odds in this historically unpredictable race.

World premiere by Sébastien Ogier

Like last year, a total of 62 cars will start on the Sarthe circuit. In addition to the five hypercars, there will be 27 LMP2 (more standardized and slower), seven LMGTE Pro (derived from production sports cars) and 23 LMGTE Am (can be driven by amateurs for private teams).

Among the curiosities of this edition, the presence of eight-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier is particularly scrutinized. For his first long-distance participation, the Frenchman told AFP in January he should approach the ‘Relax’ race with a desire to ‘see how (he) progresses and how close (he) can get to the best “.

He will join his compatriots Charles Milesi and Lilou Wadoux, 21, as one of the three mixed teams in the competition at the wheel of the Richard Mille team’s LMP2.

A female crew will also compete in the LGMTE Am: Iron Dames category, with Swiss Rahel Frey, Danish Michelle Gatting and Belgian Sarah Bovy at the helm.

Among the amateur pilots present this year, German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender will be the center of attention at the Proton Competition N.93 (LGMTE Am).


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