United Autosports have finished fourth in the final round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain today, which means they also finished fourth in the LMP2 championship after six rounds.
Phil Hanson started the race from pole position following a fantastic lap by Filipe Albuquerque the previous day to score the team’s second FIA WEC pole of the season. Phil had a great start but was squeezed between two other LMP2 cars into the first corner, which knocked him down to second place. Once again struggling with tyre grip, Phil pitted the car to hand over to Filipe Albuquerque after a double stint in scorching Bahrain afternoon temperatures.
Filipe got in the #22 Oreca 07 for his opening stint, moments before an FCY was thrown leading to the team pitting Filipe to fill up with fuel. Once racing resumed, Filipe was running in fifth place before moving up to fourth towards the end of his first stint. With just over five hours remaining, Filipe brought the car in for a left-hand tyre change, just as the sun was setting. Once his second stint was complete, Filipe pitted the #22 to hand over to Fabio for his first stints of the race. Just after the halfway point, Fabio pitted the #22 for fuel and a left-hand tyre change. At the end of his double stint, and taking advantage of an FCY period, Fabio pitted the #22 to hand back to Phil. One stint later Phil switched to Fabio, before Filipe got back in to finish the race with a double stint. A final last battle with the two JOTA Sport cars for second place saw Filipe cross the line in fourth after eight hours of racing.
Over the course of the FIA WEC season, United Autosports have scored two wins, a third place and two pole positions, finishing fourth in the LMP2 team standings.
The team now travel to America for the final round of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta, the Motul Petit Le Mans. Both the LMP2 and LMP3 teams will be in action as Jim McGuire, Wayne Boyd and Guy Smith will race the #22 Oreca 07, while Niklas Kruetten will team up with Andy Meyrick and Tom Gamble in the #2 Ligier JS P320.
“It’s not the way we would have liked to have ended. There was still the hope of the championship still being alive at this round but the two weekends have probably been our two toughest weekends since we have had the Oreca. We need to look back at this weekend and figure out what went wrong. We weren’t good enough to win the championship this year. It feels like we lost it here in Bahrain, rather than in Le Mans where we had a technical issue. But I’ll be back next year to make it two out of three.”
“We lacked pace in Bahrain but if you look back at the other races it hasn’t been terrible. Yes, we had a shot at winning Le Mans, but we had an electrical problem in the middle of the race when we were in the battle for the lead. But the same happened to the 41. We still had two pole positions, started from the front row four times, we won two races and had three podiums and that says a lot about the team. Unfortunately, it was a double header in Bahrain, and I wonder what would have happened if it was a double header in Spa for example. Things would have been different. But it is what it is. We must be humble as we know we won’t win them all, but we will go into the Winter working hard as we will be back next year stronger.”
“That has been a rollercoaster. The season started so well, and it’s ended so weirdly I suppose, I don’t know how to explain it. We all tried our best here in Bahrain and I think I did some good solid stints, but I think there was something wrong with either the tyres, the car or something. It’s a shame we raced twice here as you have six rounds and then two at the same track isn’t ideal. After I had covid, the goal for me was winning Le Mans. But then we had a technical issue. It’s a shame for everyone as we all deserved much more than what we got.”
“Obviously to maintain a championship is a hard task but we started the year well with the championship title firmly in reach. I think it was Le Mans that did it for us. But the team have worked so hard, and we will be back for more silverware next year.”
“It was always going to be tricky to retain our championship win from last year heading into today’s race. Even if we had won the race, it still relied on those ahead finishing in worse positions than they have all season. Congratulations to WRT for winning the championship. I know how special it is to win the WEC. We struggled again with tyres, but we will go away over the winter and work hard to get our championship title back next year with our two-car entry. There’s another race weekend coming up for the team straight from here as we head to Petit Le Mans. We will be aiming high there with our LMP2 and LMP3 cars.”
Source. United Autosports