The final Last Lap WEC Preview explores the key talking points in the top-tier Hypercar prototype class, welcoming a debutant and returnees.
It will be the second season in which the Hypercar category continues its place as our new top-tier endurance prototype class.
Much of the excitement is for post-2023 as several manufacturers will join or return to the top, but there is little reason not to be excited for 2022.
Toyota GAZOO Racing return to defend their Drivers’ and Teams’ championship titles, Alpine mark their ninth year since they returned the motorsport discipline, and Glickenhaus are back again since their Le Mans debut.
And a certain French manufacturer are targeting their WEC debut ever since the case was not to be at a Sebring test in 2012.
Also, the Michelin rubber this year will be more tailored to Hypercar, therefore promising quicker pace.
Hypercar poses various fruitful talking points, but alike our GTE-Pro preview, looking at the manufacturers will give the chance to see what we can expect.
Read our other Season 10 Previews:
Alpine Elf Team
The underdogs of the Hypercar class return for their second season at the top with the same ambitions in mind.
It will also be the second and final year they will field the Alpine A480 Gibson as the French automotive manufacturer prepares for a Le Mans Daytona Hypercar project set to take on the WEC in 2024.
The same drivers will continue in the #36: Andre Negrao, Matthieu Vaxiviere, and Nicolas Lapierre.
Last year, the team took on the challenge from the first day about the fuel tank size deficit compared to the other Hypercars, a challenge they will tackle this year too.
Their performances sparked confidence after bringing out consistent performances with little mistakes to note across the campaign.
Vaxiviere pushed out an encouraging qualifying lap last year at Portimao ahead of the two Toyotas and a debuting Glickenhaus.
Expect them to challenge for more pole-positions this season as they chase down their first overall win despite finishing on the podium at every race last year.
The 8 Hours of Bahrain finale was less than ideal for them when they ran into troubles, but their perseverance pushed the #36 back into P3 after taking the lead off the Toyotas at the first corner.
Unlike their rivals, the A480 Gibson unsurprisingly demonstrated better reliability due to it being an ex-LMP1 which has been in the championship since 2019.
Alpine will be just as capable to fight at the front, but will still need to capitalise on tyre management and their shorter fuel stints to their competitors.
The American outfit will take on their second season with their SCG 007 LMH package.
At the last time we saw them, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, they finished an impressive P4 and P5 on their debut.
For this year, it will be about putting in the mileage on their LMH with the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and moving forwards on competing against Toyota.
Seeing them back and now at Sebring is a fulfilling sight to witness as the 007 LMH will have to take on the demanding bumps at what is likely to be the second-longest race on the calendar this year.
Their #708 will take on each round as the #709 will join its sibling Hypercar for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, carrying on the same roster of talent announced for last year’s debut season – excluding Gustavo Menezes who will work with Peugeot as planned.
All hopes are high for them to challenge the Toyotas on a regular basis, especially after their busy off-season of interpreting data from Season 9.
In light of the recent departure of Kevin Magnussen, Peugeot are in a situation to both develop and adapt their 9X8 for homologation, and seek out a replacement to the Dane in the line-up.
With such a new project, and the demands of having a homologated package before they can take part, it was expected to hear them miss the first few rounds, unfortunately including Le Mans.
As a result, it is tricky to preview a package of which we know is in development, but we can be sure any race mileage will be crucial this year before 2023.
The current driver climate has every LMP2 driver competing intensely with one-another for a future Hypercar seat.
Furthermore, this ‘seat’ brings the knowledge, personnel, and resources of a manufacturer who are competing for overall wins in their own endurance prototype racers.
Peugeot will find the replacement ahead of their well-anticipated comeback to the motorsport discipline.
Toyota GAZOO Racing
The reigning Hypercar champions will enter their 10th year in the FIA World Endurance Championship having competed since the inaugural 2012 season.
Across the decade, they have taken on the likes of Audi and Porsche with a mixture of highs and lows, and close-calls in terms of Le Mans victories.
The GR010 Hybrid is their fifth car – and of course – a brand new one for the Hypercar era.
It was clear from the opening rounds how different the GR010 was to the TS050 Hybrid predecessor.
Nevertheless, the team have a season’s-worth of acquaintance with the package, and have only subjected to some minor aerodynamic changes for 2022.
Read more on Hirakawa: Super GT champion Hirakawa is ambitious on his step to the WEC
Super GT champion Ryo Hirakawa will be making his debut with a team he has built a strong affiliation with over the years, in addition to testing their TS040, TS050 and GR010 Hybrid.
It could be that Season 10 will be yet another show of dominance from Toyota, but there is always the reliability which could catch them out of their usual 1-2 spots – like at Monza.
Another detail worth mentioning is the fact their KERS boost will engage at 190 km/h, rather than 120 km/h.
In reality, this should make a huge difference as there is more waiting time required until they receive their added acceleration, and it could close the gap down on Alpine and Glickenhaus’ pace.
Let us know what excites you this year for the Hypercar category?