United Autosports recorded two top-10 placings in the latest Michelin Le Mans Cup race in Austria today (22 Jul). The Ligier JS P3 of Matt Bell (GB)/Jim McGuire (US) was classified eighth in the two-hour race staged at the scenic Red Bull Ring with team-mates Shaun Lynn (GB)/Richard Meins (GB) recording 10th. With four races now gone and three remaining, the Anglo-American team are handily placed in the LMP3 standings.
The Leeds-based outfit arrived at the 2.69-mile Austrian track located in the foothills of the Styrian Alps near Spielberg, having posted two podium results in the previous event at Le Mans (F). John Falb and Sean Rayhall scored a win and a second place, the American duo returning to European Le Mans Series action this weekend. United Autosports reverted to its regular two-car entry which lined-up sixth (#23) – the car’s best start position of the season – and 13th (#22) in LMP3 this afternoon courtesy of Lynn and McGuire in qualifying.
With 20 minutes gone, Red Bull Ring rookies Lynn lay 10th – despite a trip into the gravel at Turn 4 – with McGuire circulating just outside the LMP3 top-10. Shaun was ninth after 40 minutes but a drive-through penalty for an illegal overtaking manoeuvre under Full Course Yellow conditions dropped him to 11th.
Lynn handed over the #23 to fellow Bronze rated driver Meins from 12th after 58 minutes with Bell, the only one of United’s quartet to have previous Red Bull Ring race experience, taking over the #22 three minutes later. The United pair ran 10th (#23) and 12th (#22) after all of the compulsory pit-stops for driver changes had been completed by the 21-car field.
Despite the #22 serving a drive-through penalty (McGuire pinged for speeding in the pit lane) and the #23 visiting the gravel trap, the United duo remained 10th (#23) and 12th(#22) with 30 minutes to go. Bell, who set the fifth fastest lap in the race, had to serve stop-go penalty for abuse of track limits but overtook the “sister” Ligier for 10th place with 15 minutes left and ultimately took the chequered flag ninth. Meins, competing against many silver-rated drivers that included team-mate Bell, finished a praiseworthy 11th in LMP3 – the best result for the #23 car this season. However, both cars moved up a place in the official results due to post-race penalties. The Michelin Le Mans Cup competitors reconvene at Paul Ricard in Southern France for the next race on 26 August.
#22 Bell/McGuire. Qualified: 13th, 1m 30.423s (JM). Race: 8th (LMP3)
Matt Bell (GB):
“It’s been difficult. I raced here for the first time 12 months ago [ELMS] so I needed to let Jim get plenty of track time. I wasn’t entirely happy with the Ligier this weekend, our set-up wasn’t quite spot on and so we were off the pace while my stint was frustrating.”
Jim McGuire (US):
“It was my first time here and was learning the track with every lap. It’s a great circuit, more technical than I had envisaged, and an amazing facility. My stint was ‘busy’ and intense. I made a couple of mistakes but a top-10 finish is a great take-away.”
#23 Lynn/Meins. Qualified: 6th, 1m 28.036s (SL). Race: 10th (LMP3).
Shaun Lynn (GB):
“I started the race but was ‘asleep’ when the lights turned green. I ran out of talent in traffic and picked up a penalty for overtaking during a FCY. Apart from that my times were great and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I worked hard on data overnight and managed to put it all together in qualifying. I’d been here many times as a spectator but this was my first race.”
Richard Meins (GB):
“I took over from Shaun and it took me a couple of laps to settle down. In many respects it was a ‘lonely’ stint. I was always very conscious of not holding up the leaders when being lapped which then cost me time with a guy I was trying to keep behind which made things difficult. Near the end of the race, the tyres were vibrating badly. I didn’t feel I drove well compared to yesterday in practice but nevertheless enjoyed the experience.”
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“We got two cars in the top-10. With three of our four drivers having no prior Red Bull Ring track experience, it was always going to be difficult which also has a knock on effect to Matt [Bell], who had previously raced here, in terms of how much time he got in the car before the race. But apart from receiving the penalties, all of our drivers enjoyed the experience which is what this programme is about for us.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“It wasn’t the race result we wanted but the commitment that all of the drivers have shown over the weekend has been brilliant. Shaun did a great job in qualifying, starting the race in sixth while Jim gets stronger every time he goes out in the car. We will move onto Paul Ricard and see if we can improve our pace and achieve the results everyone deserves.”
Source. United Autosports