“A bitter taste”: the anger of “Pechito” López for a failure that marginalized him from the 24 Hours of Le Mans

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The end of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022

Jose Maria Lopez arrived in France with his great illusion of winning again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a merit he achieved in 2021 by becoming the second Argentine to win in the mother of long-term races. The Cordovan from Río Tercero and his two companions of his, mike conway Y kamui kobayashicame to lead the competition at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but an electrical failure in their Toyota GR010 Hybrid deprived them of another victory.

Pechito got into the car in the second cut of the race (each driver can be a maximum of four hours in a row driving). López’s Toyota number 7 took the lead ahead of the other official car of the Japanese brand, driven by Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawawho had achieved pole positions, something that is meritorious, but in a 24-hour race it can be of little use.

After six hours of racing, López and company moved on. They commanded the actions during the night, the most complicated moment of the race, but with eight hours to go the problems began for the trinomial that prevented them from repeating the victory achieved in the last edition.

At that moment, an electrical fault began in Pechito’s car, which was at the wheel at the time. The former Renault F1 tester tried to reset the sport prototype a couple of times, but to no avail and he had to enter the pits. There he was assisted by his team, but they lost a lap to the other Toyota, which went on to lead the race.

“With the problems in the tests, we knew it was possible and we practiced resetting the car due to a problem in the control unit, like everything with the electronics, without knowing if it would ever appear. We hoped that it would not happen, but we were prepared for it and the procedure took between 20 and 25 seconds to reset. Unfortunately I tried two or three times, but the car gave a hybrid failure. I had to go to the pits, I tried it there a couple of times, we changed the procedure at one point and it worked. Looking at the positive we were able to continue without problems, but the bitter taste of winning and having lost so much time with it”, explained López, 39.

After the competition, Pechito analyzed: “Fifth victory for the team and despite having rivals close by, we managed to run a very consistent race with two very strong cars. It was a battle. We had a great race until we had that problem. We had a car to win and it was deserving for the pace we had. But that’s the way this race is. We were afraid that it could happen (the problem they had), in some of the cars and it happened in ours. I don’t know why Le Mans chose the 8 (for a historical phrase that states that Le Mans chooses the winning car by the demands of the race)”.

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The testimony of Pechito López after the race

“The car then was fantastic and in the end it was easy to make good times because the track was very rubbery (it allows better adherence to the asphalt and gives more traction to the cars). I stay with that”, concluded the current two-time champion of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The Cordovan could not repeat his 2021 victory, when he emulated the reefer Jose Froilan Gonzalez, who was the first Argentine to triumph in the 24 Le Mans. It was in 1954 the edition in which Pepe was consecrated together with the Frenchman Trintignant, both at the command of a Ferrari. After 380 laps of the 13 kilometer circuitthis year’s triumph went to Buemi, Hartley and Hirakawa.

While Pechito, Conway and Kobayashi, finished second for the third time at Le Mans: 2018, 2019 and 2022. They were third in 2020. What comes next in the WEC championship will be on July 10 with the 6 Hours of Monza, in Italy, where Peugeot Sport will return (it was the winner at Le Mans in 1992/1993 and world champion in 1993 with the previous name) with its brand new 9X8.


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