Four hours into the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours and the battle for the lead is on! After multiple hours of the No. 7 GR010 pulling away from the No. 8, the race has swung back to the pole-sitting car. Jose Maria Lopez began to get reeled in by Brendon Hartley during the hour, who got into the groove. He then had an off on his out-lap after the fifth round of stops at the second Mulsanne Chicane.
This allowed Hartley in the No. 8 to get through and retake the lead. As we head into Hour 5, the pair of GR010s are together on track, slaloming through traffic and dueling for the lead.
The two Glickenhaus 007s are now third and fourth once again, after Richard Westbrook drafted past Matthieu Vaxiviere down the Mulsanne Straight into the second chicane. Unfortunately it would go from bad from worse to Alpine later in the hour, as the car wouldn’t fire after its fifth stop. The team had to push it back into the garage and started frantically bleeding the clutch. This was the first major drama in this race for a top class car.
In LMP2, it’s still the No. 38 JOTA ORECA leading the way by almost 90 seconds over the Team Penske ORECA. The No. 32 WRT ORECA is up to third after a strong stint from Dries Vanthoor. The seventh round of LMP2 stops began at the very end of the hour, though, so the order won’t be clear until we are settled into the fifth hour.
Down the order there was a drama for the Vector Sport ORECA that had a costly off into the barriers at Indianapolis. Ryan Cullen damaged the right-front corner of the car in the impact and had to limp back to the pits for repairs. It was a hugely disappointing incident for the new team in its first Le Mans, especially as it spent the opening laps of the race fighting from the back of the field after failing to set a qualifying time.
GTE Pro, like Hypercar, is seeing a pendulum swing in the fortunes of its leading cars. Corvette’s No. 63 C8.R still leads, but by just 32s over the two Porsche factory cars, which are finding pace as the temperature drops trackside. Corvette says the front tires on its C8.Rs are struggling to switch on, enabling the Porsches to begin to find their footing in this one.
Currently, the No. 91 is back ahead of the No. 92 after Richard Lietz made a move on Laurens Vanthoor. The No. 64 Corvette, meanwhile, has dropped to fourth and is only a 1.3s ahead of the first of the AF Corse Ferraris. Could the Italian marque find its way into contention as the night hours draw closer?
The biggest story of Am during the hour was a costly off for a contender. The No. 46 Project 1 Porsche, which led the race in the first hour, had a spin into the gravel at Mulsanne Corner, Nicolas Leutwiler getting beached and requiring extraction. The Swiss managed to get back to the pits for a new set of tires after rejoining but lost further time after he hit the wall at pit entry on his way in. This error has dropped the car to 61st overall and eliminated one of the more promising entries in the class from podium contention.
WeatherTech Racing still leads, with the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche second and the two Astons (Northwest AMR and TF) third and fourth.