Toyota was forced to call upon all of its experience and performance to rescue a 1-2 start for the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans after Alpine and Glickenhaus used Hyperpole to demonstrate they could cause an upset this weekend.

With the Japanese manufacturer - by far the best resourced of the three teams competing in the five-car Hypercar class - hot favourite to land a fifth consecutive Le Mans win ahead of next year’s anticipated influx of new high-profile rivals, Thursday evening’s Hyperpole nonetheless reminded Toyota that it isn’t in a race of its own necessarily.

Indeed, while the #7 and #8 GR040 Hybrid pair had been comfortably quickest in practice, Alpine and Glickenhaus certainly appeared much closer to the ultimate pace than they were twelve months ago. 

As such, they took a leaf out of Toyota’s history book by seemingly sandbagging in the run up to Hyperpole before unleashing a surprising turn of performance that forced the Gazoo Racing team to react.

With track conditions improving rapidly as dusk fell, all three teams enjoyed stints at the top in the closing stages, but it was Alpine that rolled the dice with a superb effort from Nicolas Lapierre - an ex-Toyota driver - of 3m 24.850secs. 

With Brendon Hartley in the #8 Toyota baulked by traffic and Kamui Kobayashi’s provisional pole in the #7 car shortlived due to a track limits infraction, Toyota found itself in an unfamiliar position as the pressured party, forcing Hartley and Kobayashi to keep the hammer down for a last gasp attack.

Mercifully for Toyota, both drivers brought their best when it mattered, with Hartley keeping it tidy for a pole-winning 3m 24.408secs effort. If the car on top wasn’t a surprise in the end, then perhaps the drivers were as the Kiwi - who will race with Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Fukuda - scored a welcome boost by denying ‘Lap of Le Mans’ specialist Kobayashi a fourth pole in six years.

Alpine had to settle for third having been forced to sit out the final couple of minutes due to its own track limits rulings, ahead of the #709 and #708 Glickenhaus 007LMH cars.

A big step forward for the American outfit, lead driver in the #709 car - Ryan Briscoe - was even up on the Toyotas coming into the closing stages of his final flying lap, only to be held up by stubborn GT traffic just as navigated the final corner complex.

In LMP2, Robin Frijns put the Team WRT Oreca he will share with Sean Gelael and Rene Rast in a strong position to mirror its victory from 12 months ago with a rapid pace that put him more than a second clear of the opposition.

The associated Realteam by WRT of Norman Nato followed up in second place, ahead of #22 United Autosports USA car led by Filipe Albuquerque and the Antonio Felix da Costa steered #38 Jota. Le Mans debutants Prema Orlen completed the top five courtesy of Louis Deletraz.

In the hotly contested GTE Pro class, Corvette Racing maintained its status from practice to take pole position in the hands of Nick Tandy, the #64 entry locking out the top two positions with the sister #63 car being driven by Antonio Garcia. The two factory Porsches follow in third and fourth, with the AF Corse Ferraris fifth and sixth.

There was better news for Ferrari in GTE Am though as the #61 AF Corse Ferrari of Vincent Abril In GTE Am, the #61 Conrad Grunewald and Louis Prette topped the timesheets.