Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Peugeot, BMW and Cadillac are all preparing to return to a system that is about to experience a new golden age from 2023.
The World Endurance Championship (WEC) opened with a 1000 mile race from Sebring (Florida) for six races including the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans; But everyone has already fixed their eyes on the year 2023 and the return of the most prestigious manufacturers.
Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Peugeot, BMW, Cadillac … Before combining all these manufacturers from 2023, the first category in the world championship, called Hypercar since 2021, takes off again for a year of moving with Toyota in this The role is from big favorite characters, Alpine as an outsider and Glickenhaus as Tom Thumb.
In the LMP2 class, we will also follow the endurance debut of eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier, who has also transferred to the Richard Mille Racing team.
2023 will be the year of the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a legendary event and young WEC pioneer. On its 10th anniversary, the tournament also presents in 2022 the 6-Hour Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, May 7), the Monza Championship (Italy, July 10), Fuji (Japan, September 11) and the 8-Hour Bahrain (November). 12).
At a crossroads ahead of the hoped-for return to the Golden Age, the 2022 endurance race at Sebring begins, from Wednesday for free practice, Thursday for qualifying and Friday for the race (departures at 12:00 PM FL, 5:00 PM in French time).
In the Hypercar, we will of course find Toyota. The Japanese national team has been dominant in recent years, winning the last three tournaments and the last four editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. She won all the races last year with her two cars.
Toyota has two more crew on board: Argentina’s Jose Maria Lopez, Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Britain’s Mike Conway will regain their championship titles and at Le Mans with the N.7. At N.8, Swiss Sebastien Buemi and New Zealander Brendon Hartley returned, accompanied by Japan’s Ryo Hirakawa.
Hirakawa replaces Kazuki Nakajima, a three-time Le Mans winner who will now become Vice President of Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe. Kamui Kobayashi will, in addition to his role as driver, be the team manager.
The balance of performance is still crucial
Facing the big competition, the competition so small, is still 2022. The French Alpine team will line up for the second year in a row in the first category, still authorized to compete with Hypercars with an old non-hybrid LMP1 prototype.
A tri-color crew of two-thirds of the Blues will remain, at the Alpine N.36, with Nicolas Lapierre and Mathieu Växvier linked to Brazilian André Negrao.
The third participant in the WEC Hypercar will again be the small American company Glickenhaus, named after its owner, former film director James Glickenhaus. Two other Frenchmen will lead this team: Olivier Plas and Romain Dumas, accompanied by Australian Ryan Briscoe.
This year, Peugeot is expected to arrive during the championship, having abandoned the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022. Peugeot will launch the 9X8 this summer, in Italy or Japan. The French brand did not want to take the risk because once its hypercar is approved, it cannot be modified until 2025, with some exceptions.
Pending increased competition in 2023, the WEC is still hoping for more battle thanks to the Balance of Performance (BoP). This handicap system (heavier car for example) should allow the level of the three teams to be balanced with different technologies (Toyota Hybrid only).
In addition, the championship from this season will use 100% renewable fuels, which should allow for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 65% at the circuit, as promised by the organizer.
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