Doubled by Toyota in Sarthe for a 5th consecutive success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After the #7 in 2021, Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa are the second winners of the Hypercar era with the Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.
Toyota knows it better than any other manufacturer: the status of favorite is not everything, victory must be built on the track, 24 hours a day. Yes, Toyota was the chosen one even before the start thanks to past successes. But Alpine was leading the constructors’ standings in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) before the big meeting. And the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, which continues to improve its 007 LMH, could claim the crown. In the end nothing came of it.
Toyota shone in this pioneering edition, the first in which all competitors used Excellium Racing 100 100% sustainable fuel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65%.
The 380 laps of the event were led by the Toyotas. Command was frequently swapped between the two crews. On the track, depending on the pace of the drivers or the performance of the mechanics, the two GR010 Hybrids took turns in the lead. But, at the 9th hour, thanks to a slow zone, the #8 escaped with 30 seconds in advance. The gap was maintained throughout the night, then at 7.47 am, the #7 was stopped shortly after Arnage before returning to its pit. José Maria López then carried out several complete restarts of the car. The positions would remain unchanged until the finish.
Alpine missed out on the Manceau meeting. Very early on, problems with the clutch forced the mechanics to return the car to its box. Twice, the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson of André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxivière lost 10 minutes. Adding several errors on track, the car with the A arrow was never in the game, always sailing beyond 20th place.
In the clan of Jim Glickenhaus, we can congratulate ourselves on discovering the podium. The #709 007 LMH of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Franck Mailleux was delayed early in the race by a turbo sensor problem, but then delivered a flawless performance.
The #708 was the duo’s leading car for a long time, but an outing by Olivier Pla at Tertre Rouge at 11:17 p.m. shattered the dreams of a podium.
Sébastien Buemi now has four victories and becomes the equal of Yannick Dalmas, Olivier Gendebien or Henri Pescarolo. Brendon Hartley goes to three victories split between two manufacturers (Porsche 2017, Toyota 2021 and 2022) and Ryo Hirakawa opens his list. He is now part of the very exclusive club of Japanese drivers who have won in Sarthe with Seiji Ara (2004), Kamui Kobayashi (2021), Kazuki Nakajima (2018, 2019, 2020) and Masanori Sekiya (1995).
Porsche wins the last edition in which the cars of the LMGTE Pro category participate (only the LMGTE Am will be there in 2023, before a switch to GT3 in 2024). Success took shape gradually, with a fight against Corvette first, then a face-to-face with Ferrari.
When Patrick Pouyanné (Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies) waved the French flag and released the 62 players in this 2022 edition, it was the Corvettes that retained their advantage at the start. Absent in 2020, the C8.Rs had made their big debut in Sarthe last year (2nd and 6th in category) and capitalized on this experience to start in front, winning their pursuers. But trouble would come quickly. The #64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims was the first to be hit with a brake intervention that lost precious seconds. Then the #63 of Antonio García, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg suffered damage to the left-rear suspension. Mechanical problems that condemned the march of the #63… which gave up after 214 loops. The lonely #64 kept the lead thanks – in particular – to a very good job by Alexander Sims in the morning. But the Englishman’s efforts were wiped out in a fraction of a second. Battling the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, Sims was beaten by François Perrodo in the #83 AF Corse Oreca 07 – Gibson. The beautiful yellow was catapulted into the wall, rebounded and then ended its race with the left front axle ripped off. An abandonment full of emotion, as brutal as it is unfair. You have to go back to 2010 to find an edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a double Corvette retirement.
Then it was Ferrari that Porsche had to face. The #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 gave way after a gravel trap by Michael Christensen, then a high-speed puncture severely damaged the front axle. Only the #91 Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki remained, the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra returning the replica. Frédéric Makowiecki and Alessandro Pier Guidi were wheel to wheel at 10.30 am, the Italian in the lead not wanting to give up the slightest inch of tarmac. He left the limits of the track several times to protect his position, but punctured because of his escapades… Solid, the three Porsche drivers approached 3’50 per lap during their last stints. An effort that allows them to impose themselves.
The Oreca 07 – Gibson #38 Jota of Roberto González, António Félix Da Costa and Will Stevens was at the top of all the time charts. We could believe in the chances of the WRT team, placed in the lead thanks to the Hyperpole with the #31 of Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns and René Rast. But Vincent Vosse’s drivers have never been threatening. The #31 and #41 sandwiched the #22 (United Autosports USA) from the first meters and had to return to the pits for repairs. The #41, led by René Rast, also received a penalty for having caused the accident, which caused it to fall as soon as the double clock started. It was the #32, the third car of the Team WRT team driven by Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Dries Vanthoor, which would ultimately be the most prominent of the lot. But at a good distance from the winners of the day.
Back to Jota. The #38 Oreca could count on the support of the sister car (the #28 of Oliver Rasmussen, Edward Jones and Jonathan Aberdein) at the start of the race. The two prototypes entered by the English team dominated. Then, as the stints of the drivers progressed, we saw all the talent and homogeneity of Roberto González, António Félix Da Costa and Will Stevens. The last two named ensured the start of the event and took advantage of certain periods of slow zone to entrust the wheel to the Mexican (classified Silver) in the best possible conditions.
In a race slowed down by a single exit from the safety car, it was the speed of action and the consistency of the drivers that were the key. In this game, Robert Kubica, Louis Delétraz and Lorenzo Colombo brought a good opposition with the #9 (Prema Orlen Team). Insufficient, however: they had to settle for 2nd place overall between the two green and red LMP2s.
For his first participation, Sébastien Ogier (associated with Lilou Wadoux and Charles Milesi on the #1 Richard Mille Racing Team) finished 11th. A successful experience which, we hope, will be repeated.
The #33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sørensen wins! Ben Keating finally holds a victory at Le Mans. He who changed mounts with each edition decided in 2022 to bet on continuity. For his second attempt in an Aston Martin Vantage AMR, he savored a podium finish ahead of the #79 Weathertech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Cooper MacNeil, Julien Andlauer and Thomas Merrill. The #79 held the controls for a long time but overnight, the Aston Martins found a second wind. The #33, therefore, for the victory, and the #98 (Northwest AMR) of Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nicki Thiim, for the 3rd step of the podium.
The 100% female crew with the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #85 Iron Dames (Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy) is 7th. Complicated first outing for Michael Fassbender (Porsche 911 RSR-19 #93 Proton Competition). Pushed out at 11:15 p.m. in Indianapolis, he then made a mistake at Dunlop before returning with a puncture. An apprenticeship that results in a 16th place in the category.
Find the provisional classification of this 90th edition.
The dropout list
- Porsche 911 RSR-19 #46 Team Project 1 – Matteo Cairoli/Mikkel Pedersen/Nicolas Leutwiler – Engine failure
- Aston Martin Vantage AMR #777 D’Station Racing – Satoshi Hoshino Tomonobu Fuji Charles Fagg – chassis issue
- Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #71 Spirit of Race – Franck Dezoteux/Pierre Ragues/Gabriel/Aubry – Engine problem
- Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #59 Inception Racing – Alexander West/Come Ledogar/Marvin Klein – Mechanical breakdown on track
- Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #63 Corvette Racing – Antonio García/Jordan Taylor/Nicky Catsburg – mechanical issues
- Porsche 911 RSR-19 #56 Team Project 1 – Brendan Iribe/Oliver “Ollie” Millroy/Ben Barnicoat – accident
- Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #64 Corvette Racing – Tommy Milner/Nick Tandy/Alexander Sims – crash
- Oreca 07 – Gibson #31 Team WRT – Sean Gelael/Robin Frijns/René Rast – accident