Le Mans 2022 – Toyota, Porsche, Jota, Aston Martin Win

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Le Mans 2022 - Toyota, Porsche, Jota, Aston Martin Win Classes

After heart-breaking loses from mechanical failures, human persistence pays off once again. That’s why it’s called endurance racing.

Toyota Gazoo Racing brought its winning record at LeMans to an extraordinary total of five this year in the top Hypercar class. The number of kilometers traversed by the winning #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid was 5,177.17 at an average of 215.4 kph or 380 laps (nine more than in 2021).

The Japanese manufacturer’s victory was almost assured once the race started at 16:00 on Saturday. The n8 Hypercar started in pole position following Hartley’s late, late lap in Thursday evening’s Hyperpole session. The two Toyota GR010-Hybrids steadily traded the top two positions until Sunday morning when the n7 car pitted for an engine reset. The n8 car showed remarkable consistency throughout to claim the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy.

The Japanese powerhouse has now surpassed Ford and Alfa Romeo to become the fourth manufacturer to secure at least five consecutive victories after Ferrari, Porsche and Audi. After winning in 2018, 2019 and 2020 in the Toyota TS050-Hybrid, driver Sébastien Buemi now has a fourth win to his name. Buemi joins Yannick Dalmas, Olivier Gendebien and Henri Pescarolo among four-time winners and Ryō Hirakawa has become the fifth Japanese driver to win  at the 24 Hours after Masanori Sekiya, Seiji Ara and Kazuki Nakajima.

The Alpine Elf Endurance Team for the first time in its history was at Le Mans while leading the Hypercar category. It was Alpine Elf ‘s tenth consecutive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As iut turned out, there was little to celebrate with one large exception.

This year, the classic twice-around-the-clock race returned to its traditional format with the Scrutineering at the Place de la République in Le Mans last Friday. After this opener, the competitors got their first track time on Circuit de la Sarthe two days later during the Test Day. Despite a productive Sunday, Les Bleus noticed a distinct top speed deficit compared to their rivals.

Although the so-called “balance of performance” remained the same on Wednesday during the first free practice and qualifying sessions, the governing body reacted by granting 7 extra kW to the Alpine A480 from Thursday. This decision, combined with an incredible lap by Nicolas Lapierre in qualifying, saw Alpine Elf Endurance Team post the third-best time.

The next day, however, the governing teams decided to remove 11 kW from the French prototype, in a decision announced just before the drivers’ parade in the city centre. The consequences were evident from the start on Saturday at 4 pm. Third on the grid, Nicolas Lapierre was powerless against the Glickenhaus’ and slipped to fifth place in the Hypercar category before turn one. More drama ensued for Alpine. Ultimately the Alpine A480-Gibson (Negrão/Lapierre/Vaxiviere)  finished 23rd overall. However, they now enter the second half of the WEC season in the lead of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

LMGTE Pro

The LMGTE Pro class in its final year was a fierce contest among Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet Corvette. Corvette took the front row of the grid in Hyperpole and was strong until the sun went down. The N63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R (García, Taylor, Catsburg) punctured its left rear tire while the N64 (Milner, Tandy, Sims) incurred debris caused brake damage. Attention here turned to the N64 which made up its deficit during the night. Alexander Sims was leading the class mid-morning when François Perrodo in the AF Corse #83 Oreca 07-Gibson bounced the C8.R into the barriers on the Mulsanne Straight, ending the team’s hopes of a first win since 2015.

This left perennial winners Ferrari and Porsche. The AF Corse #51 (Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra) and N52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo (Molina,Fuoco,Rigon) and the #91 (Bruni, Lietz, Makowiecki) and #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 (Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor) fought all the way through. Brake changes, punctures and slow zones,  resulted in an advantage for the #91 Porsche and the #51 Ferrari. Frédéric Makowiecki held off the challenge from James Calado to clinch the win for Porsche. It was Frenchman’s first class win at Le Mans after three straight second places. Teammates Gimmi Bruni and Richard Lietz already had three each to their name. The AF Corse N51 and N52 Ferraris finished second and third.

LMP2

The JOTA n38 Oreca 07-Gibson finished first in LMP2, which is esspesentailly a spec racing class build around Oreca chassis and Gibson V8 engines. It is the British team’s first class victory at Le Mans since 2014 when it won the LMP2 class with the #38 Zytek Z11SN Nissan. It was the second class win for British driver Will Stevens following his 2017 LMGTE Am win with JMW Motorsport in a Ferrari 488 GTE. Mexican Roberto González and Portuguese António Félix da Costa had never previously been on the top step of the Le Mans podium. González, da Costa and Stevens drove an exemplary race, leading the class from the first hour. At the end, the Prema Orlen Team #9 Oreca 07-Gibson (Kubica/Delétraz/Colombo) took second place ahead of the JOTA #28 Oreca 07-Gibson (Rasmussen/Jones/Aberdein) in third.

LMGTE Am

After last year’s second place, TF Sport captured the LMGTE Am win in the #33 Aston Martin Vantage AMR. American Ben Keating, invited as the winner of the IMSA Jim Trueman Award, now has a class title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after winniing in the LMP2 class at the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. It was also a first Le Mans win for Dane Marco Sørensen (third in 2020 with Aston Martin Racing) and Portuguese rookie Henrique Chaves. They were followed home by the #79 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of WeatherTech Racing (MacNeil/Andlauer/Merrill), and the #98 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Northwest AMR (Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim).

24 Hours of Le Mans 2022 HyperCar Results

  1. Toyota Gazoo Racing n8 380 laps
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing n7 +2:01.222s
  3. Glickenhaus Racing n709 + 5 laps
  4. Glickenhaus Racing n708 + 10 laps
  5. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n36 + 18 laps

FIA World Endurance Championship Hypercar Drivers

  1. Lapierre, Negrão, Vaxiviere – 81 points
  2. Buemi, Hartley, Hirakawa – 78 points
  3. Dumas, Pla – 69 points
  4. Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez – 61 points
  5. Derani, 46 points

Hypercar Manufacturers

  1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 103 points
  2. Alpine Elf Endurance Team – 81 points
  3. Glickenhaus Racing – 69 points

Race Results are at: https://live.24h-lemans.com/en/live

World Endurance Cup

The Le Mans 24 Hours is the third round of the 2022 WEC, which has six rounds, beginning with the 1000 Miles of Sebring (USA) on 11 March, followed by the 6 Hours of Spa on 8 May. After Le Mans the series goes to Italy for the 6 Hours of Monza on 10 July. WEC then returns to Japan for the first time since 2019 for the 6 Hours of Fuji (ITA) on 11 September. The series will then conclude with an eight-hour race in Bahrain on 12 November.

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