Le Mans 2022 Recap: Renewable Fuel, Hydro-Electric Engines, and Another Win for Toyota Gazoo - Play

There was a lot to unpack at the world’s oldest endurance racing event.

After 24 hours of intense racing, Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed a fifth successive victory at the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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The No. 8 prototype took the checkered flag in front of an exuberant crowd at Circuit de la Sarthe. For almost a century, the endurance race has been at the forefront of innovation and this year’s event signaled a significant new chapter for the sport.

Toyota Gazoo Racing, with Sebastie Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa take, takes victory

As the Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001, and more recently the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Rolex supports the ongoing quest for excellence at the highest level of motor racing.

This year’s race played out under clear skies and, amid soaring track temperatures, man and machine were tested over a grueling 24 hours. Across the four categories, 62 cars started the race and, as day gave way to night, just a few seconds separated the Toyota Gazoo Racing duo at the front of the field.

As the sun rose over Circuit de la Sarthe the emotional and physical ware began to tell; WEC frontrunner No. 36 Alpine Elf Endurance Team recovered from a heavy incident, while in the LMGTE Pro category No. 64 Corvette Racing relinquished a commanding lead, following a sudden collision.

Celebration of the winners of the 24 Hours Le Mans

The elite Hypercar class saw a Toyota Gazoo Racing 1–2, with the No. 38 JOTA ORECA 07-Gibson racing to victory in the competitive LMP2 category. The No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR was consistent throughout, taking a comfortable win in the LMGTE Pro’s last 24 Hours of Le Mans, while the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR gained honors in the LMGTE Am class.

Time is an integral part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with every lap and every second magnified in this ultimate race against the clock.

Following the conclusion of this year’s race, the winning drivers stepped onto the podium to receive the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy and a specially engraved Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.

Happy winners at the podium

“Taking the car over the line today was a very special feeling. I’m a small piece of the puzzle; all of my teammates are part of this victory,” says Brendon Hartley of Toyota Gazoo, which has won the event for the fifth time. “I broke down in tears after the race as my wife and six-month-old daughter are here and, not that she’ll probably remember it, but I have promised that this Rolex is for her.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is steeped in tradition yet continues to demonstrate a relentless commitment to performance and technical advancement.

The extreme conditions of the 13.626 kilometer racetrack mean reliable solutions are found faster and the endurance epic has proven to be the ideal testing ground for future technologies.

Tom Kristensen

For the first time in the 99-year history of the race, this year saw the introduction of 100 percent renewable fuel, as well as the track debut of a hydrogen-electric prototype prior to the race.

Next year, the focus will be on the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when the race reaches this milestone on the 10 to 11 June 2023.

As its most decorated driver, Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen will take on the role of ambassador for the centenary edition.

The specially-designed trophy for Le Mans

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a legendary race; the history is mythical, brought to life by the extraordinary stories throughout almost a hundred years of racing,” he says.

In 2023, Kristensesn continues, all the manufactures will want to return so many new teams and drivers will enter. “This shows how important and relevant Le Mans is,” he explains. “Attending as part of the Rolex family will give me an opportunity to look back on my career and be reminded of my love for the sport.”

A special trophy is being designed to honor this momentous occasion and will embark on a journey to a variety of motor sport celebrations around the world, which reflect on the past while looking to the future.

Headlights at sunrise

Its official unveiling is set to take place later this year on August 21 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California (USA). The trophy will then travel onto further events with which Rolex has close ties, including the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex (UK), before it ultimately returns home to Circuit de la Sarthe in June, in time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023.

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