Last Lap examines the entry list for Le Mans’ 90th running featuring veterans, debutantes and more exciting names for the third WEC round.
This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans not only resides as the third event in the 2022 Season 10 calendar, but a commendable anniversary of 90 races over the past 99 years.
There will be 62 cars across the WEC’s four categories: Hypercar, LMP2, LM GTE-Pro and LM GTE-Am.
Amongst these provisional entries, a total of 186 drivers from 13 global nationalities will compete.
Furthermore, several traditionally automatic entries are applied for those who won their class in last year’s race, and championships in the Asian Le Mans Series, European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup.
With such an array of competition, Last Lap delves further into the names who are participating across each class.
Hypercar: 5 Entries
It will be the second year of the coveted Hypercar era, and a set of familiar names return from last year.
A note to mention about the Hypercar class, Peugeot will not be taking part at Le Mans this year due to their thorough and extensive process to develop, test, then fully homologate their 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar. As a result, they do not feature on the list with two cars.
Toyota GAZOO Racing will take on their 10th consecutive participation at the French classic with two GR010 Hybrids.
Their driver line-ups remain identical to their WEC crews; the #7 will be piloted by reigning winners Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.
In their sibling car will be Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa – the latter of whom will take on his third Le Mans, and his first at the Japanese manufacturer.
Toyota have a quadrant of wins to their name at Le Mans, but they may find themselves challenged on their pursuit for a fifth one.
Glickenhaus Racing return with a double line-up of SCG 007 LMHs and their retained driver crews.
The #708-numbered Hypercar will take on the full WEC season, and will have more race running compared to the #709.
They impressed on their Le Mans debut last year finishing P4 and P5, a feat Toyota did not achieve 10 years ago with their TS030 Hybrids. With more learning to do with the 007 LMH, they will hope to become realistic contenders for the win, or at least a podium finish.
Finally, the Signatech run-Alpine Elf Team left off last year fighting with Glickenhaus on that final podium spot, to which they were successful in claiming.
With such a great amount of experience at Le Mans, combined with their utmost professionalism to sportscar racing, they are the underdogs once again for the final time the A480 Gibson will race.
After Season 10 finishes, they will be back in a year’s time with a pair of Alpine LMDh WEC entries.
LMP2 – 27 Entries
As ever recently with Le Mans, the secondary endurance prototype category is set to be a thrilling combination of competition and talent.
Within this category are drivers showcasing themselves as capable and mature enough for a future Hypercar seat.
With three more Oreca 07 Gibsons compared to last year, there are a slight increase of entries.
The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps beforehand will be another crucial step in terms of his acclimatisation with sportscar racing.
It will be a high speed circuit with challenging corner complexes and heavy braking zones, almost emulating the characteristics of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Where Ogier lacks in professional circuit experience, he will make up for as he adapts to the discipline and his Le Mans debut in June.
Reigning WEC champions and LMP2 Le Mans class winners WRT will return with both a different driver crew to the #31, and a second #41 entry in partnership with RealTeam Racing.
Last year, they had two cars – one of which broke down on the final lap at the Forest Curves, denying the ELMS-run LMP2 crew their first win.
With two strong driver crews, and a promising form to show until Le Mans, it is likely they will return as contenders alongside the likes of United Autosports and JOTA.
Speaking of United, debutant Josh Pierson will become the youngest ever Le Mans starter at 16 years and 117 days old, beating Matt McMurray’s record in 2014 (16 yrs, 202 days).
Whilst the Porsche LMDh gains useful testing mileage, the Penske outfit and their drivers have made use of 2022 as a preparation year.
It formulates crucial experience from the ‘flavour’ they savour from the WEC, and Le Mans will have a major part in testing the whole team before 2023.
In LMP2, the Pro/Am field of 10 cars should boast fascinating duels with a blend of amateur and professional crews taking on each other.
The #83 trio who won in GTE-Am last year will take on their first LMP2 Pro/Am Le Mans race.
ELMS and Asian LMS regulars include Algarve Pro Racing who applied late into the process at the beginning of March after their relationship with G-Drive Racing was affected due to sanctions.
LM GTE-Pro – 7 Entries
The final year of GTE-Pro will provoke a fight for the win between a selection of the most credible GT drivers.
Five full-time WEC entries are represented by AF Corse Ferrari, Corvette Racing and Porsche, but two additional cars from IMSA will join.
One of which will be a second Corvette C8.R with drivers Nicky Catsburg, Antonio García and Jordan Taylor; Alexander Sims will be the third wheel in the WEC entry.
The other comes from Riley Motorsports and their automated invitation from winning the IMSA LMP3 Michelin Endurance Cup title last year.
They will run a #74 Ferrari 488 GTE with drivers Felipe Fraga, Sam Bird, and Shane Van Gisbergen.
Corvette put on a strong performance last year as they contended for the win, consequently finishing second on the same lap as the winning #51 AF Corse.
Their aim will be to have both Corvettes up at the sharp end to contend yet again since their last Le Mans win in 2015.
Porsche unmistakably struggled for pace during last year’s running, after what was a strong showing of pace during the other 2021 WEC rounds.
After losing out on the title last year, the German manufacturer prose a fighting chance at it based on their promisingly talented driver crews before they contend for the overall win in 2023.
LM GTE-Am – 23 Entries
In this class, there are 10 added entries on top of the familiar 13 in the WEC.
The Asian LMS GT Champion Inception Racing will make their second consecutive Le Mans appearance with an AF Corse-run Ferrari.
However, due to the #56 Team Project 1 partnership, their crew from last year will not race in that same Ferrari: Oliver Millroy, Brendan Iribe, and Ben Barnicoat.
Out of the three makes in the class, Ferrari are most represented with 12 entries.
Aston Martin are represented by three Vantage GTEs, all WEC regulars: TF Sport, NorthWest AMR and d’Station Racing.
Amongst the five reserve entries, the #95 TF Sport run in the ELMS is listed with only John Hartshorne listed as a driver.
A driver and famed actor making his Le Mans debut is Michael Fassbender.
For the past two years, he has driven with the Proton Competition outfit in the ELMS.
His first taste of the circuit was during last year’s Test Day, although this time around will provoke a challenging test of endurance for him.
Only one podium appearance sits to his name behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR, at the 4 Hours of Portimao finale.
He is familiar with the package to take on Le Mans, and will join the likes of other famed actors to compete in the French classic including also Porsche-affiliated Patrick Dempsey, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and more.
Other entries to keep an eye on includes the #79 WeatherTech Racing from IMSA, with only Cooper McNeil listed as a driver in this provisional entry list.
The 90th edition of the iconic race will showcase a diversity of driver talents involving both works and privateer outfits all competing for 24 hours.