United Autosports have won the 2020 European Le Mans Series Championship by winning the 4 Hours of Monza today.
The #22 crew of Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque won from pole position after a hectic start to the race. This win marks their third ELMS win of 2020 and the team’s fourth win out of four races beating the previously held record of three wins. It also marks Phil and Filipe’s 10th win as a pairing.
The #32 Oreca 07 of Alex Brundle, Will Owen and Job van Uitert finished second, by only 3.057 seconds to the sister car, marking United’s first ever ELMS LMP2 1-2 finish.
The #2 Ligier JS P320 of Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon finished third after getting caught out by safety car periods that benefited their closes rivals.
The #3 crew of Jim McGuire, Andrew Bentley and Duncan Tappy finished P11 after contact earlier in the race resulted in them being handed a 10 second stop and go penalty.
It has been an incredible few weeks for United Autosports after winning the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship last month and then winning the ELMS championship today, a feat that has never been achieved by any other team in the same year.
They now move onto the final round of the season at Portimao in Portugal, where they hope to seal second in the LMP2 championship as well as taking the LMP3 title.
“I’m so incredibly proud of the team today, to not only clinch the championship in LMP2 but to do it in style with a 1-2 finish. It couldn’t have been closer between our two cars. The LMP3 team had a difficult race, but I’m sure they will come back fighting at Portimao.”
“It was unfortunate that an incident and a stop go penalty put the #3 car out of contention. The pace of both LMP3 cars has been strong all weekend, backed up by Wayne’s pole – his fourth of 2020 and third in ELMS – not that we are surprised at his pace. The #2 car definitely had the pace to win, but we just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and safety cars just didn’t fall our way. It was such a close finish at the end too. We still retain the lead of the LMP3 championship, albeit by a smaller margin, so it’s quite a simple objective for them in Portimao, they need to win.
Then with LMP2, it’s such a cliché to say it hasn’t sunk in yet but it really hasn’t. It’s quite incredible. The run of pole positions and wins. European champions to add to being World Champions as well as Le Mans winners all in the same year. I can see why it’s never been done before. How I feel now is way beyond, not what we hoped for, but you need so much to go for you in a season to achieve what we have and so much to go your way. It was a great comeback from the team on the pit wall and in the garage. The pit stops were faultless. A 1-2 at the end could have easily been either way round. I’m super proud of all the team and what Phil and Filipe have achieved this year.”
Phil Hanson lined up on pole position for the fourth time this season in the #22, while Will lined up in fifth in the #32. It had rained overnight, meaning race control declared the track wet and the team had to decide which tyres to go on. Both our cars went on intermediate tyres.
After a hectic start, Phil was forced to take avoiding action, driving over the curb and into the gravel, but continued, albeit at the back of the pack. Will made a great start, moving up to fourth until the safety car was called out to rescue the beached G-Drive car at the first chicane.
As the track began to dry, both Phil and Will were struggling on the intermediate tyres, so with just 19 minutes gone, Phil pitted to change to slicks and to change the rear tail after damage caused at the first corner. A lap later, Will pitted the #32 for slicks and fuel and headed back out again.
Phil quickly got back into his stride setting fastest lap after fastest lap as he began making his way back through the pack. As pit stops began to cycle through, Will and Phil were leading the pack.
With two hours and 30 minutes remaining, Phil pitted the #22 from second to hand the car over to Filipe Albuquerque, while Will pitted the #32 and handed the car over to Job van Uitert, both drivers returning to the track under FCY conditions.
With just over an hour remaining, Filipe pitted and handed the #22 back to Phil Hanson, who brought the car home to take their third ELMS win of 2020 and their 10th as a pairing. A lap later, Job pitted the #32 from P2 and handed the car over to Alex Brundle, who battled back to close the gap to the #22 to just 3.057 seconds at the line.
The #22 crew now lead the championship by an unbeatable 37 points, while the #32 crew lie second, 20 points ahead of third place going into the final round at Portimao on 1 November.
Rob lined the #2 Ligier JS P320 up on pole position once again, on wet tyres, with Jim starting the #3 Ligier from fifth, also on wets.
A good start from Rob, who managed to drive around the carnage ahead of him, meant he maintained the lead, while Jim unfortunately dropped back to eighth. After the first safety car period ended and racing resumed, Rob maintained his lead and began to pull away. After 26 minutes, Jim pitted the #3 for slick tyres, while Rob pitted after 32 minutes to also change to slick tyres.
Just as the race reached the one hour mark, Jim had a coming together with a GT car, which beached the #3 in the gravel. He was pulled out and successfully brought the car back to the pits for the team to check it over and install Andrew behind the wheel. Unfortunately the #3 car then picked up a 10-second stop and go penalty for contact with the GT car. Andrew pitted the car, served the penalty and made his way back out on track again.
With one hour and 26 minute gone, Rob pitted the #2 from second for fuel and a change of drinks bottle, but stayed on board. At the two hour mark, Andrew brought the #3 into the pits to hand over to Duncan Tappy.
After a fantastic two hours and 14 minutes, Rob pitted the #2 and handed the car over to Tom Gamble. New tyres and a full tank of fuel and Tom made his way back out on track, until he stopped with 50 minutes remaining to hand the #2 car over to Wayne Boyd.
Wayne crossed the line third in the #2 Ligier by just 0.062 seconds to second place. The #3 finished 11th.
The #2 Ligier remains in the lead of the championship, just 10 points ahead of second place. The #3 crew now lie seventh in the championship.
Source. United Autosports