United Autosports have finished fourth in LMP2 and sixth in LMP3 after 10 hours of racing at the Motul Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, held yesterday at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The LMP3 team started the weekend well as Niklas Kruetten scored pole position as he returned to the team for his second IMSA race, racing alongside Tom Gamble and Andy Meyrick in the #2 Ligier JS P320. Their pole position on Friday was the team’s second consecutive IMSA LMP3 pole position, after scoring pole at Watkins Glen in June.
Niklas lined up at the front of the LMP3 grid and made a perfect start, stretching out a good lead during his opening stints. Unfortunately, he was then tagged by a car he was lapping, which sent him spinning into the barrier while comfortably leading the race. After pitting for repairs, Andy Meyrick took over the wheel of the #2 but suffered terribly with the handing of the car as a result of the damage. After more repairs, which included changing the nose during the pit stop to switch drivers to Tom Gamble, the car became more drivable, with Tom and the team getting back on the lead lap. Unfortunately, moments later they were hit with a mechanical issue, which needed a trip behind the wall to make the necessary repairs. Almost two hours later, they emerged from behind the wall to rejoin the race, after a superb job to diagnose and fix the problem. Niklas completed his mandatory driving time and handed the car over to Andy, who in turn then handed the car back to Tom to finish the race in sixth place.
United Autosports’ LMP2 team also had a promising start to the 10-hour race. Starting the race in fifth, Jim McGuire had a great opening stint, leading the LMP2 race at one point, before handing the car over to Wayne Boyd comfortably inside the top three. Unfortunately, during his second stint in the #22 Oreca 07, Jim was hit by another car, meaning the team had to change the nose at the next pit stop. After that stint, Jim handed the car over to Guy Smith who was then also hit from behind on one of the many safety car restarts, meaning the team had to change the rear end of the Oreca at the next pit stop. Battling their way back through the pack, they made it back onto the lead lap, only to drop a lap back once again after a pit stop infringement penalty. After a hugely competitive performance from Jim over the course of the weekend, the team eventually crossed the line fourth in the LMP2 class.
This weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans marked the team’s final IMSA race of 2021 after having competed in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. The next race for the team is the final round of the Extreme E Championship, as their team Andretti United Extreme E battle for the championship win in Dorset, UK on 18-19 December.
“We came up a little short, but regardless of that I’m really, really proud of the team to come here and do the 10-hour race after being on the road for four weeks straight on different continents. The amount of effort it took to get here and run the race is just fantastic. Wayne, Guy and I drove well and were competitive but ultimately the other teams just did a better job. It is what it is, but I’m really proud of everybody and I’m looking forward to the next race.”
“I think we are all pleased with the pace we showed. The team did a fantastic job, pit stops and strategy. I have to give Jim a special mention for his pace in both qualifying and the race. It’s a massive improvement and it was a joy to watch.”
“It was great to be back at Petit. What a fantastic race to be at back with United and Wayne and Jim. It was also great to see so many fans back too. We would have liked to have been on the podium, but we just didn’t quite have the pace, but Jim did a really great job improving every time he drives the car. He keeps getting closer to our pace, which is the aim so I’m pleased we can take that away from the weekend.”
“The whole weekend worked out very well for us until the race. We came here without any testing and no expectations. The car was great from the beginning, and I think we all adapted well. I managed to get pole position and my first stints were good. Then I got tangled up with a lapped car that put me in the barriers, so the team had to fix the car but that affected the handling. Tom and Andy tried to make up for that but then in the end we had a fuel pressure problem which cost us almost two hours. Then it was a case of getting the drive time done. Big thanks to the team for a great weekend, the car was awesome.”
“It was a tough race. It’s such a narrow track and with so many cars there’s bound to be a bit of chaos. Sadly, we got caught up in that during Niklas’ stint at the start, which caused a bit of damage which inevitably cost us a bit of lap time during the race. We managed to get back onto the lead lap and were looking certain for a podium and maybe able to even challenge for the win, but then a mechanical issue caused us to break down and it was race over from there really. It’s a case of what could have been. Niklas did a fantastic job getting us on pole, so I think after that we were hoping for a bit more. The team did a great job getting us back out there. If we come back again, we will definitely be going for the win.”
“It looked super promising going into the race after practice and a great job in qualifying for Niklas, putting us on pole. We know this race is always going to be hard to win. We had a super line up and a strong car, but luck wasn’t on our side this weekend.”
“I think we had the pace to win, or at least be on the podium with both our LMP2 and LMP3 teams, but one thing or another stopped that from happening. Either way, we have enjoyed racing in the IMSA series this year and hopefully we will be back next year.”
“I think we had a chance with both our cars to be at the sharp end and it just didn’t seem to come to fruition. Our LMP2 team were leading the race in the early stages with Jim in the car, who has massively improved over the course of the weekend never mind the three races we have done over here. They did well to get back onto the lead lap after some contact and were battling for position until the end of the race. I’m not sure what to say about our LMP3 team. All three of them did a great job, and Niklas made the perfect start, scoring pole position on Friday and then leading so strongly for the opening stages of the race before being taken out. Then cruelly, the mechanical issue we suffered just as they had got back on the lead lap really did take us out of contention. I believe with that line up and the pace we showed in the early stages and in qualifying, we could have won the race in LMP3. But to come away with our second consecutive pole position is something we can be proud of in our IMSA racing season.”
Source. United Autosports