United Autosports finished fourth at the end of the penultimate round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain yesterday.
Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Fabio Scherer brought their #22 Oreca 07 home in fourth place at the end of the six-hour race after starting second on the grid, thanks to a great qualifying lap by Filipe the previous day.
Phil Hanson took the start of the race in 30+ degree heat and was immediately out in front heading round the first corner. He was involved in a three-way fight for the lead of the race during his opening stint, before pitting from third place. After stopping for fuel, he went back out on track, before handing the car over to Filipe. A trouble-free double stint for Filipe saw him hand the car over to Fabio, who was making his Bahrain race debut, who held onto second place throughout his first stint. During his second stint, Fabio struggled with the handling of the car, something Filipe then experienced during the final stages of the race. Unfortunately, Filipe also picked up a 10 second stop and go penalty for contact with another LMP2 car, dropping the trio to third. In the closing stages, Filipe was involved in a tense battle with fellow Portuguese driver Antonio Felix Da Costa, for third place, but ultimately crossed the line fourth.
The team, who are the reigning LMP2 WEC Champions now begin to prepare for the final round of the 2021 season next weekend – the Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain, held on Saturday 6th November at 14:00. Phil, Filipe and Fabio will be aiming to finish the year on a high after scoring two wins already this season.
“The race was very disappointing, especially as it hurts us so much in the championship. It didn’t go our way. The car seemed to drop off towards the second half of the race. We were in contention at the start but then we got a penalty so lost third place.”
“It was a tough race. At one point we thought we had it. We were in contention for the win but then something weird happened. We lost pace. When it got colder, we went slower which made no sense. We need to understand what’s going on and how to work with the tyres in these conditions, but once we have figured everything out, we have the car to win. Sometimes it’s like this and we keep fighting for the next race.”
“It was a frustrating race. We knew it was going to be a difficult race, but it started quite well, we had decent pace. My first stint was good, and I caught up to the leaders and I was very happy. Then I pitted and got new left tyres and then it was not working for me anymore. I thought it was me, but it kept getting worse. It was a shame because ideally, we could have won the race or been on the podium. For the championship it is getting tricky so the only thing we can do next week is win.”
“It was a good start to the race, but it was difficult. Mathematically we are still in the hunt for the championship, so we are going to go all out next weekend to get the win and end the year on a high.”
“That was tough. We started well with a good qualifying from Filipe to get us on the front row of the grid and Phil had a great start, but halfway through the race it seemed to go a bit downhill. It’s a shame as it was looking good for the win or at least a podium so this result has made our championship defence a bit harder, but we will now be fully focussed on the final race next weekend.”
Source. United Autosports