United Autosports won the final round of the 2021 European Le Mans Series at Portimao, Portugal yesterday.
The #22 Oreca 07 crew of Phil Hanson, Jonathan Aberdein and Tom Gamble brought the #22 car home in first place sealing second in the championship for the trio confirming the pace they have shown all year. Over the course of the season, they have scored four podiums including yesterday’s dominant win. Starting from sixth place, Phil Hanson was soon in the lead of the race, which was red flagged during the early stages of the race. Jonathan got on board the #22 and held position before handing over to Tom just after the halfway mark. Tom brought the car home to take the team’s first LMP2 win of the season.
The LMP3 team have also clinched third in the ELMS LMP3 Championship, by crossing the line third in yesterday’s race with the #2 crew of Wayne Boyd, Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe. Rob started from pole position after Wayne scored his seventh ELMS pole position yesterday in the #2 Ligier JS P320. Rob managed to hold the lead of the race for the majority of his stint but a drive through penalty for track limit infringements dropped the trio down to third during Edouard’s stint. Wayne got on board for the final hour of the race and crossed the line to confirm third place in the championship for the team. After post-race checks it was announced that the #2 Ligier JS P320 was promoted to second place in the race, equalling their best place finish of the season. A well-deserved reward for Wayne, Rob and Edouard.
The #32 crew also started brilliantly after a fourth place qualifying for Nico Jamin the previous day. Manuel Maldonado started the race for the first time this season and moved immediately up into third place. He had some great battles amongst the field before handing the car over to Job van Uitert, shortly after the race resumed. Unfortunately, Job had contact with a car he was lapping, which damaged the nose and the track rod, meaning the team had to push the car back into the garage to make the repairs. Nico took the car over when the #32 resumed racing but was down in 10th place. Nico pushed hard during the final part of the race, showing they also had race winning pace.
The #3 Ligier JS P320 of Jim McGuire, Duncan Tappy and Andrew Bentley also suffered more bad luck, when they too were pinged for track limit infringements when Andrew was pushed into a spin by another competitor. They managed to fight back and crossed the line in 10th place to finish their season after Jim started the race for the first time this season and drove a great stint before handing over to his teammates.
The team now travel to Bahrain for the final two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship with the #22 Oreca 07 of Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Fabio Scherer.
“Super happy to finally get the win, it’s been a long time coming. The car has been fantastic all year, and we’ve had a lot of opportunities so it’s great to end the season like this. In terms of the race, we nailed the strategy and the car has been quick all weekend, so another faultless execution from United and my two teammates Tom and Jonathan. My start wasn’t great but I was able to recover to what was a net-lead, so very happy with my prolonged race stint.”
“A faultless drive by my teammates, with a brilliant strategy by the team. Everything finally came together, and it’s amazing to finally get that win and finish second in the championship.”
“A mega race for us. Phil did quite a lot of the hard work at the start to get us from sixth up to third, and then to take the lead. Jonathan drove a great race as well, so I just had to bring it home at the end. It’s the win that has eluded us all year, so finally it was great for everything to come together and to also finish second in the championship this year. Full credit to the team as well, an amazing job by them as always.”
“It’s a bit of a frustrating end to the season. The car felt extremely fast today and was handling really well. We had a great strategy for the race and the team were brilliant throughout the race and in the lead up to it, preparing us the best car. It was looking like a possible one-two finish for the team but Job suffered an unfortunate collision with another LMP2 so we had to box and repair the car. I did what I could and pushed hard, and with the car feeling so fast it just showed what could have been for us today.”
“A bit of an unlucky weekend and end of the season. It’s a shame because we were showing really good pace and were fighting for that win. The team deserved a better result than what we got so a disappointing end to this European Le Mans Series.”
Job van Uitert:
“I felt like I was responsible for the team losing out on the chance to get a one-two finish in the last race of the season. It’s not easy to accept what happened but it happened and I can only apologise to the team for what should have been a great final race. The team deserved to get a good result in #32 car, but I’m happy for the #22 getting the win, because the team have been waiting for it all season. I’m frustrated that I couldn’t give them an even better result.”
“Another podium for us, a nice way to finish the year. Ultimately we just didn’t quite have the pace to fight for the win today, which is a shame after the amazing car we had in qualifying that allowed me to get the car on pole. Of course, a big thank you to everyone at United Autosports for giving us a great car all year. We kept working harder and improving throughout the year, and combined with two great teammates Rob and Edouard, it’s been a very enjoyable year for me and hopefully we can come back again next year.”
“A podium in the last race is a good result but we were looking for a victory since the start of the season and unfortunately we have not been able to achieve that. To finish third in the championship is still a good result, and I am very proud to have worked with United Autosports who have been very supportive all year. I hope to be back next year.”
“We’ve had a lot of bad luck this season, unfortunately and in the second half of this season we’ve not achieved what we could have. But I want to finish this year by saying a massive thank you to Richard and the whole team for giving me the opportunity to race again and I’ve loved every minute with the team. They’ve given me the chance to achieve something I never thought was possible so that’s the note I’d like to end 2021 on.”
“Wow, I can’t quite believe that the championship is over for this year. I want to thank everbody at United Autosports for doing a fantastic job all year and also to my teammates Duncan and Andrew. The three of us fought really hard this year, and whilst we didn’t finish where we wanted to in the championship, we finished every race of this season and fought hard until the very end.”
“Another difficult weekend for us in #3 crew. We had a disappointing qualifying session, which led us to try a different race strategy by starting the race with Jim. Jim did a great job and I think the strategy played into our hands. The drive through penalty was another unfortunate incident, but everyone showed great pace and I think we can take a lot of positives out of the season after experiencing more than our fair share of bad luck. A huge thank you to United Autosports for their continued hard work and it’s a pleasure to be a part of such a great team.”
“It was a promising start, with Jim getting away brilliantly. I was happy with my part of the race, the pace felt really good but I was unfortunate with a drive through penalty for track limits and also contact with an LMP2 car. Duncan had great pace and we were just unlucky to not get our best result all season in the final race.”
“What an awesome race for the #22 crew. They showed the pace that they have had all year and finally they were rewarded with a win, which got us second in the ELMS championship. Well done to the whole team during what was a difficult year.”
“Nice to finish the LMP2 season on a high with the win. It did feel like there was an opportunity for us to get a one-two today, with us having the pace all year. It’s taken us a while to get the win this year, with the season not always favouring us but I’m really pleased for Phil, Jonathan and Tom. All three of them have stayed positive throughout the season and have worked hard to thoroughly deserve this win.
The 32 car were really unlucky today as they had the pace to also be fighting for the win. They have shown their pace all year but one thing or another has got in their way. The success we’ve had in the LMP3 championship over the years has been amazing and it’s even more astounding that we’ve not won a race this year but are still coming away with third in the championship for #2 crew. The team have shown their dedication and consistency throughout the season to achieve this championship position. Jim, Duncan and Andrew have finished every race this season in #3 Aero ligier and have been really consistent, however it’s just not quite worked out for them. They’ve been capable of top six across the season, with some opportunities for podiums, but that’s racing.”
Source. United Autosports