Patrick Pouyanné to be 24 Hours of Le Mans starter
Photo: 2022

Patrick Pouyanné to be 24 Hours of Le Mans starter

Patrick Pouyanné, Gérard Larrousse and Jim France all take honours for 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has announced three people in the spotlight at the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 11-12 June with CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, taking the role of official starter, Gérard Larrousse becoming Grand Marshal and Jim France awarded Spirit of Le Mans 2022.

“I am honoured to play host to Patrick Pouyanné, Gérard Larrousse and Jim France and grateful for their contribution to this year’s event,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. 

“With a new fuel, a milestone victory and a historic partnership, these three men embody the sense of innovation, of history, the winning attitude and team spirit that characterise the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year, we are particularly looking forward to welcoming the many thousands of fans to enjoy the event with no restriction on numbers.”

At TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné’s signal ­– the ceremonial wave of the French flag – the 62 competitors will embark on their 24-hour journey. All cars on the grid will run on Excellium Racing 100, the 100% renewable fuel by TotalEnergies. The resulting 65% decrease in carbon emissions during the race is just one of the outcomes of organiser Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s commitments to sustainable mobility.

“It is an honour to be Starter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Pouyanné. 

“As a partner of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, TotalEnergies is proud to supply the field with a 100% renewable fuel for the first time in the history of the race. It is our contribution to the ACO’s commitment to sustainable development. It is also in line with our strategy to help our customers and partners negotiate change. 

“Without doubt, biofuels will play a part in reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector. The most gruelling endurance motor race on earth continues to be a testing ground and a showcase for innovation in motoring. I feel privileged to be a part of the starting ceremony and I would like to thank the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and all the volunteers whose passion shapes this magnificent event.”

This year’s race, the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, is the occasion of a golden anniversary for Matra. Pescarolo and Hill first won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the marque on 11 June 1972. The following year, Pescarolo and Matra triumphed again, this time with Gérard Larrousse, who celebrated the first of his two Le Mans wins. Larrousse has the enviable task of leading the field to green in the starting ceremony shortly before 16:00 CET on 11 June. 
“I am very honoured to have been chosen to be Grand Marshal,” said Larrousse. “The 24 Hours of Le Mans have marked my whole life and thanks to the ACO I will be at the heart of the event. I can't wait to start in the opening car for a race that will probably be exceptional given the richness of the field.”

The Spirit of Le Mans trophy salutes the men and women who uphold the values of enduring racing by their commitment, team spirit and competitive drive. This year’s awardee is IMSA and NASCAR chairman Jim France. IMSA and the ACO came to a historic agreement in June 2020, making it possible to run the same car in the top tier of championships on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Last year, the two organising bodies renewed the strategic alliance they formed in 2013. The partnership was cemented by way of a name swap. In Le Mans, the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight is now known as the Daytona Chicane, while The Bus Stop at Daytona has become the Le Mans Chicane. The official naming ceremony at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans will take place in the run-up to this year’s race.

“I take tremendous pride in the relationship we have built with the ACO over the past decade,” said France.

“IMSA and the ACO are the caretakers of professional endurance sports car racing all over the world, and together we have developed a platform for an incredibly bright future. I am deeply humbled and honoured to be selected by close friend, Pierre Fillon, and the ACO Board of Directors to receive the prestigious ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ Trophy this year. Joining the list of so many respected previous recipients is something that I and my family will forever cherish.”