The world’s most famous endurance race returns to Le Mans this weekend. A total of 62 cars will take the start of the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Saturday June 11, at 4 p.m., for a full day of racing, before seeing the checkered flag on Sunday. From the sporting challenge to the drivers involved, through the novelties, franceinfo: sport takes stock of what you need to know before the start of the event.
A new renewable fuel in tanks
This year, the vehicles will run on brand new fuel in the tanks. Excellium Racing 100 is 100% renewable, produced from waste from French wine-growing. It was tested from the start of the season, during the first round in March of the 1000 miles of Sebring (in Florida, in the United States). This is a new step in the desire to reduce the environmental impact of the Endurance Championship (WEC), one year after the Excellium Endurance, which included 10% advanced bioethanol.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans cars will race at the “Excellium Racing 100”, a new #biofuel from #grapes from the Rhône Valley ️ https://t.co/sODJo3RIYF @lv_vitisphere @24 hours of Le Mans #LEMANS24 @Vinsrhone pic.twitter.com/zloSAO1bZN
— Wine & Society (@vinetsociete) September 3, 2021
The premiere of Sébastien Ogier and a Hollywood star among the entrants
The entry list for the 2022 edition includes several names well known to motorsport enthusiasts. Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, eight-time world rally champion, will take part in the event for the first time in his career, at the age of 38, with the Richard Mille Racing team, in the LMP2 category. In particular, he will team up with his young compatriot Lilou Wadoux (21), one of the five women entered this year.
Several former Formula 1 drivers will also start, such as Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais, but also Robert Kubica, Giancarlo Fisichella, Felipe Nasr and Esteban Gutierrez. Irish actor Michael Fassbender (seen in the films X-Men, Inglourious Basterds, Twelve Years a Slave…) will also be part of the amateur LMGTE category, driving a Porsche 911. Finally, the American Joshua Pierson, entered in LMP2 with United Autosports USA, will become, at 16 years, three months and 25 days, the youngest driver in history to take part in the race.
Toyota for the pass of five, Alpine in ambush
If Toyota looks like the big favorite of this 90th edition, as always, everything is possible at Le Mans. The Japanese firm is also well placed to know, she who had waited a long time and experienced many adventures before her first coronation in 2018.
The Japanese manufacturer, which is still banking on its GR010 Hybrid (the only hybrid Hypercar prototype on the grid), has won the last four editions in the premier category (LMP1, now Hypercar), and is seeking a fifth victory in a row this weekend. , a feat only achieved by Audi and Porsche. Toyota would then join the top 5 of the most successful manufacturers in the history of the event. This success would also allow the Toyota Gazoo Racing team to get closer to Bentley and its six crowns.
—Alpine Racing (@AlpineRacing) March 18, 2022
But Alpine will also have its part to play, after its third place on the podium in 2021. The three drivers at the wheel of the Alpine A480 (Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and André Negrao) hit hard at the start of the season by winning the inaugural race at Sebring, after taking pole position and dominating the race from start to finish.
The return of the public in numbers
After two years of pandemic, nothing prevents the public from rediscovering the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is moreover on the usual dates of the event. In 2020, the race was postponed to the end of September and took place behind closed doors due to health rules. The following year, the meeting had been postponed again, at the end of August this time: 50,000 spectators had filled the stands of the 24 Hours circuit, subject to the health pass.
— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans) June 7, 2022
This weekend, 260,000 people are expected around the circuit, without any restrictions. Le Mans has indeed regained its emulation of yesteryear since many supporters have already arrived to attend the weighing of the cars as well as the first checking and driving sessions.