Will Owen and United Autosports achieved their first top-ten finish of the 2018 European Le Mans Series over the weekend during the 4 Hours of Castellet where they placed 9th out of the 18 total entries in the LMP2 category.
The race weekend started out in wet conditions, which made qualifying more of a challenge than anticipated by the American/British team. Earning the 14th spot on the starting grid, Owen knew he had to make up some ground right from the start of the 4-hour race. Despite this being the American’s first start ever in his European Le Mans Series career, Owen immediately gained several positions shortly after the green flag.
Owen continued moving up in the field throughout the duration of his two stints with a tricky battle against a Dallara machine that showed competitive speed on the straights but lagged in the corners, making it difficult for a clean pass. Owen made a move at Turn 2 and was able to move into 8th place before handing the #32 Ligier JSP217 over to teammate, Wayne Boyd.
The team lost some of their momentum when they learned that Boyd was having issues with his seat belts and had to come to the pits to solve the problem. The lead gained by Owen was diminished and the duration of the race was spent climbing back into the top ten by Boyd and Hugo de Sadeleer who eventually crossed the finish line in 9th place. Owen and United Autosports will have to wait until May 13th to take on the second round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series and fight for their first podium at the 4 Hours of Monza.
“It was a fun day of racing. We salvaged a 9th place result here at Paul Ricard for the first round of the ELMS season. It was an up and down day to say the least. We started 14th after a pretty tricky qualifying effort. I got to start the race, my first time doing so in the ELMS, and it went pretty well. I gained a couple positions in the beginning and made up a few more throughout my stints. By the time I got out of the car, it looked like we may be able to get a top 5 finish with really good pace from the car. Unfortunately we had a few mistakes that cost us some time, but fortunately, Boyd and Sadeleer both had good stints and did a great job of finishing 9th from the issues we had during the race. It’s important for us to finish above where we did today throughout the rest of the season if we want to win the championship, so we need to keep pushing and fix some errors we made so we can come back stronger as a team for Monza.”
Source. Speed Group/Will Owen