24 Hours of Le Mans | Buemi, Hartley, Hirakawa take fifth Le Mans win for Toyota

The #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa have won the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans to give the Japanese manufacturer its fifth consecutive victory in the French endurance classic.
#8 Toyota - Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley
#8 Toyota - Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley

The Swiss-Kiwi-Japanese trio led home a 1-2 for the firm to consolidate its status as one of the race’s most successful marques, five years on from it getting the first win it had waited decades to achieve.

While a slim Hypercar entry - whittled down further by the withdrawal of the much anticipated new entry from Peugeot - meant big budget Toyota went into the race as hot favourites to continue their excellent form in the historic French event, single lap pace suggested Glickenhaus and Alpine could still pose a threat.

However, after holding the lead through the opening bends, Toyota steadily built on its advantage through the opening hours while circulating in relatively close quarters. However, problems for the #7 car gave the sister entry the margin it needed to maintain a steady course to the flag.

It was still a 1-2 for Toyota as Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway recovered from electric issues to complete another resounding result for the manufacturer.

Despite the delay for the trio, it was an otherwise largely trouble-free race for Toyota, which is now primed for the arrival of at least Ferrari and Peugeot on French soil in the Hypercar class next season.

Though Toyota’s pace was too superior for it to mount a realistic shot at victory, Glickenhaus proved solid and impressively reliable throughout in just its second 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance. They were duly rewarded with a maiden podium for the #709 car driven by Ryan Briscoe, Franck Mailleux and Richard Westbrook.

The #708 car, meanwhile, had kept the Toyotas honest for much of the race’s opening half by staying on the lead lap, but a spin for Olivier Pla resulted in a glancing blow against the barriers, costing it an unscheduled stop and a slide down the order. It eventually recovered to fourth at the finish.

Alpine, meanwhile, struggled for race pace early on with its A480 Gibson before technical issues dropped it back before the mid-way stage and a spin into the barriers consigned it to 23rd at the finish.

In LMP2, there were to be no late dramas a year on from WRT’s leading contenders stopping on the final lap, with the #38 Jota producing a superb performance in the hands of Antonio Felix da Costa, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Will Stevens to win from a lead it held from the first hour.

That advantage kept it ahead of an absorbing battle for positions behind it, one that remained fluid until the latter third of the race when the Prema Orlen car of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Lorenzo Colombo broke away to claim a podium for the Italian team on its Le Mans debut.

In addition to victory for the #38 car - its third at Le Mans - Jota celebrated a double rostrum with with #28 car of Jonathan Aberdein, Ed Jones and Oliver Rasmussen coming home in third position.

TDS Racing X Vaillante made gains late in the race to ascend to fourth place at the finish, ahead of Team Penske, the American outfit having challenged for the podium for long stretches of the race en route to fifth.

The #23 United Autosports USA car brought home a solid sixth for the American squad, which saw its hopes of its #22 car hampered right from the off by a clash that sent it off track at turn one before encountering further issues into the race.

Cool Racing and the #48 IDEC Sport completed the top eight for the LMP2 cars, 11th and 12th on the overall classification.

In the final outing for the GTE Pro class before it is phased out for new regulations in 2023, the #91 Porsche of Richard Leitz, Frederic Makowiecki and Gianmaria Bruni came home winners in what proved a gruelling race for many of the leading contenders. 

A class that closed up considerably come morning, the Porsche trio were involved in a dice with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari before eventually pulling clear.

GTE Am honours went the way of the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorensen having overhauled long-time leaders WeatherTech Racing Porsche and withstanding a fight-back from the American squad in the closing stages.

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