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UNITED AUTOSPORTS 2019 EUROPEAN SEASON GETS UNDERWAY AT LE CASTELLET

United Autosports 2019 season begins next weekend as the team head to Paul Ricard for the first rounds of the European Le Mans Series and the Michelin Le Mans Cup (12-14 April).

Over winter, the Anglo American team have worked hard to pull together the best driver line ups to challenge for both the LMP2 and LMP3 titles.

The LMP2 team is made up of returnees Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque who will race the #22 Ligier JS P217. Although attending the prologue, Filipe is unable to race in the opening round at Paul Ricard, so former F1 driver and DTM champion, Paul Di Resta will stand in for the Portuguese driver. In the #32 Ligier JS P217, United’s 2016 ELMS LMP3 champion Alex Brundle returns for a full season, racing alongside Ryan Cullen who is new to the team. The pair will race alongside Will Owen from Monza onwards but will race as a duo at Paul Ricard.

Over in the LMP3 team, the #2 Ligier JS P3 will be piloted by Garett Grist and Wayne Boyd, who return to the team after their Asian Le Mans Series success. They will team up with Tommy Erdos who will be making a racing comeback after a nine-year break. The #3 Ligier JS P3 will be driven by the two drivers who clinched the ELMS LMP3 championship alongside Alex Brundle in 2016 – Mike Guasch and Christian England.

United’s 2019 Michelin Le Mans Cup team is once again made up of three Ligier JS P3s. Jim McGuire and Matt Bell return for their third season in the #22 AERO Ligier. Garett Grist will be doubling up racing duties this year, racing alongside his American IMSA co-driver Rob Hodes in the #23, while Naj Husain and Colin Braun return for a second year. With Colin unable to race at Paul Ricard due to his IMSA commitments, Wayne Boyd will be filling in for the season opener in the #24 Ligier.

The official two-day ELMS prologue will take place on 8-9 April, with the Michelin Le Mans Cup prologue held on 10 April.

The Paul Ricard race weekend begins on Friday 12 April with Michelin Le Mans Cup free practice one at 09:50. The two-hour Michelin Le Mans Cup race will be held on Saturday 13 April at 16:00, with the 4 Hours of Le Castellet beginning on Sunday 14 April at 12:30.

Phil Hanson (GB), driver car #22, United Autosports:
Born/Lives: London, UK. Age: 19
“I’m really looking forward to starting the ELMS season at Paul Ricard, especially after having success in Asia. I think we can deliver the same performance as we did in the Asian Le Mans Series and hopefully be fighting for race wins, continuing where we left off at Portimao last year. Both the team and I have put in a lot of work over the winter so it would be good to start the season off with a winning performance alongside Paul who is stepping in for Filipe due to the IMSA conflict.”

Paul Di Resta (GB), driver car #22, United Autosports:
Born: Scotland, UK Lives: Monaco. Age: 32
“The ELMS is something that’s new to me but I feel like it’s a continuation following on from the Asian Le Mans Series. I’ll be pairing up with Phil again, filling in for Filipe who will be racing with Phil for the rest of the year ahead. I’m looking forward to getting back in the new generation of LMP2 car along with my first time racing on Michelin tyres and hopefully starting the year as positively as we ended in Asia. Obviously this is a partnership that is going to carry on into Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship later in the year so its vitally important that the connection with drivers and the team stays at the same level as it has been since I first raced for United over a year ago now. I’m looking forward to working with all the guys at United again.”

Alex Brundle (GB), driver car #32, United Autosports:
Born: Kings Lynn, UK. Lives: London, UK. Age: 28
“I’m excited for the first race of this new ELMS season with United Autosports. Preparation and testing has gone well and I feel ready for the race weekend. We should get more of a feel for the performance of the competition from the prologue, but we have a good driver line-up and an experienced team behind us which fills me with confidence for the first event.”

Ryan Cullen (GB), driver car #32, United Autosports:
Born: Weston-Super-Mare, UK. Lives: Bristol, UK. Age: 28
“I’m looking forward to finally starting our 2019 ELMS campaign. Paul Ricard is where my LMP2 career began and it’s great to be returning with here with United Autosports. We have been working hard in pre-season testing and this has given me time to get to know my new team as well as the Ligier and the Michelin tyre. There is a real focus on performance here and I’m sure that will translate to success this season. Alex and myself have formed a good working relationship and this will certainly help with the team’s ambitions in this championship.”

Garett Grist (CAN), driver car #2, United Autosports:
Born: St. Catherine’s, Canada. Lives: Grimsby, Canada. Age: 23
“The first race is always an interesting one. You don’t know what team or driver line up is going to come out strong. Sometimes things look good on paper but don’t always translate to the track. I think United has done a great job with our line up and preparing the cars. Our goal is to be one of the teams to hit the first race strong. Last year in my first ELMS race at Paul Ricard I didn’t do a good job, coming back for my second season and what I have learned I plan to change that.”

Tommy Erdos (BRA), driver car #2, United Autosports:
Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lives: Milton Keynes, UK. Age: 55
“I am really looking forward to the first race of the ELMS season at Paul Ricard, with United Autosports. Racing for a top team like United does put extra pressure on the drivers to perform, but this is a good thing as it tends to help you focus even more on the task ahead. We have a great crew in United Autosports – a championship winning team who is hungry to succeed in 2019 and I am excited to be part of it. The ELMS is extremely competitive, especially in the two prototype classes, with big grids and quality driver line ups. It will be a very competitive series and I can’t wait to get going.”

Wayne Boyd (GB), driver car #2, United Autosports:
Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives: Templepatrick, Northern Ireland. Age: 28
“I’m really looking forward to the first round at Paul Ricard. We’ve got a strong line up with Garett and Tommy so I think we will be able to start the season in a strong position. With regards to being back at United, it’s my fourth season in the ELMS so it means I’ve already had plenty of running at the circuits so hopefully we will be able to do a good job.”

Mike Guasch (US), driver car #3, United Autosports:
Born: Palo Alto, USA. Lives: Martinez, USA. Age: 61
“I am very excited to be back racing with United Autosports in the ELMS. United is like family to me and we’ve had some historical moments. I was one of their very first drivers in 2010, the first year Richard and Zak started the team and in 2011 Matt Bell and I earned the first win for the team at Snetterton. I came back in 2016 and we won the LMP3 championship with Christian England and Alex Brundle. Now returning in 2019 and teaming back up with Christian is like a big family reunion. The team has grown so much and had so much success I have to bring everything I can to continue that success. I look forward to the challenge. Let’s rock and roll.  Our fourth year together over a nine year period.”

Christian England (GB), driver car #3, United Autosports:
Born: Barnsley, UK. Lives: Huddersfield, UK. Age: 37
“It’s felt like a long winter and I can’t wait to get the season underway at Paul Ricard. I’m so happy to be returning to United again for my fourth season and back to the ELMS grid. I’m especially looking forward to driving alongside Mike again after our 2016 championship victory. We are really good friends and will have each other’s back from the get go. The competition will be strong but it’s what we are all here for. Bring it on.”

Jim McGuire (US), driver car #22, United Autosports:
Born: New York, USA. Lives: Florida, USA. Age: 58
“I’m really glad to be returning to the Michelin Le Mans Cup this year. United Autosports did a great job for Matt, Kay, and I keeping our AERO-painted Ligier JS P3 on top during the Asian Le Mans Series. And last year we had a lot of fun in Europe with the team. Every race the crew does a great job getting the car ready for us. So we’re going to apply some of the lessons we’ve learned in Asia and in previous years, get the car ready at Paul Ricard and do our best to arm ourselves for Europe in 2019. I think we’ve got a really competitive package, and I’m happy for the chance to race with United Autosports again this year.”

Matt Bell (GB), driver car #22, United Autosports:
Born: Newcastle, UK. Lives: Stamford, UK. Age: 29
“It’s great to be back with United and Jim once again. It’ll be my ninth season with the team and third with Jim so we all know each other pretty well. Jim and I had a great race in Sebring – to kick start the season with a podium is always a great feeling and hopefully it means we’ll hit the ground running at Paul Ricard.”

Rob Hodes (US), driver car #23, United Autosports:
Born: Montreal, Canada. Lives: Florida, USA. Age: 58
“I’m very excited for the opening race at Paul Ricard. It will be a lot of firsts for me: first time on this track, first time working with our engineer Hugo, first race with United and first race in Europe. I’m super excited for the challenge. Everyone I’ve met at United have been very welcoming and I get on great with my very fast co-driver Garett Grist. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and take off with this great team.”

Garett Grist (CAN), driver car #23, United Autosports:
Born: St. Catherine’s, Canada. Lives: Grimsby, Canada. Age: 23
“I’m excited to be in the Michelin Le Mans Cup this year alongside racing in the ELMS too. I think it will be great having the extra track time. I’m excited to be racing with Rob, who I race with in the IMSA Prototype Challenge in the US. It will be great for him and will really help him develop and learn, especially being at a team like United.”

Naj Husain (US), driver car #24, United Autosports:
Born: New Jersey, USA. Lives: Virginia, USA. Age: 56
“I’m very excited to be back with United Autosports. I had a great first year with United in the Michelin Le Mans Cup last year and I am looking to build on that experience this year. Wayne will be joining me for the Paul Ricard race. He is a very talented young driver and I look forward to working with him and the United team toward a top podium finish.”

Wayne Boyd (GB), driver car #24, United Autosports:
Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives: Templepatrick, Northern Ireland. Age: 28
“I’m looking forward to working with Naj and I’m looking forward to racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup as it will be my first time in the series. I watched all the races last year and they are very competitive. I will be busy, but it should be a good weekend.”

Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“Our aim this year, as every year, is to win championships so that will be our target for 2019. We have some great drivers in great cars so there’s no reason why we should be able to win races and ultimately the championships.”

Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“I’m looking forward to the start of the 2019 European season. This will be our fourth year racing in the ELMS and the third racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. We have four great driver line ups in the ELMS and the Michelin Le Mans Cup team benefits from having returning drivers who already know the circuits. Our aim is consistency and we will be going for the championship wins.”

Source. United Autosports

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