United Autosports have won the opening round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship at Sebring as Josh Pierson, Oliver Jarvis and Paul Di Resta finished first in the #23 Oreca 07.
The race ended early with a second red flag thrown in the last hour of the race due to incoming thunderstorms. With less than half an hour remaining the decision was made to not restart the race, leaving the #23 crew winners at the end of the 1000 miles of Sebring.
The trio started strongly from third on the grid, with Paul holding position during his opening stints. Paul handed the car over to the youngest ever WEC competitor, Josh Pierson, who completed a triple stint in the car before handing back to Paul. During Paul’s second outing in the #23, the first red flag of the race was thrown due to a huge crash for the #7 Toyota Hypercar. Luckily the driver got out the car seemingly unharmed, with the WEC field lining up on the start/finish straight to await further information. After half an hour and shortly after the halfway mark of the eight-hour race, racing resumed. Oliver Jarvis took over from Paul and maintained the lead, before handing the car back to Paul, who brought the car home to take the team’s first win of the year.
The #22 crew started the race brilliantly from second on the grid, with Filipe Albuquerque passing the LMP2 pole sitter and two Hypercars to take the lead in LMP2 and to lie second overall. Filipe handed the #22 over to Phil Hanson who drove brilliantly to stretch the lead over the rest of the field, before handing the car over to Will Owen, who was making his full season WEC debut. Unfortunately, during the middle section of the race, Will began to struggle with the handling of the car, meaning the team pitted to change tyres, dropping them a couple of places down the order. From there it was a difficult battle back, the #22 crew out of sync with their pit stop strategy. At the end of the race when the final red flag was thrown, they were lying in seventh place, a finishing position that didn’t reflect their pace early in the race.
The team now turn their focus to tomorrow’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, where Jim McGuire, Guy Smith and Duncan Tappy will start the race from P8. The race begins tomorrow morning at 10:10 local time. Round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be held at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium on 6-7 May.
“What a way to start the year! This is three from three with United now and we’ve got a lot to live up to at Spa. The triple stint was difficult, especially on the tyre, towards the end it was hot in the car and the tyres were falling away. At the end of the day that strategy worked out so thank you to the team.”
“What an amazing start to the year. I just want to say a huge thanks to the team, they’ve done a phenomenal job all week and what a way for Josh to start his WEC career, with a win. At 16 years of age as well. A big thanks to Paul too. He did a lot of the hard work during that race to leave me fresh for the IMSA race tomorrow. We came here with high expectations, and I think we would have been happy with a podium, but to win is incredible. A big race to win and a great way to start the year.”
Paul Di Resta:
“Obviously I’m ducking out after this event, but what a way to start the year for United. It was tricky from the start though, we had to work quite hard for that. It took us about five stints to get where we wanted to be and in the lead. We managed to stay in front. It’s been a long week, but Josh did an amazing job, very well driven. We challenged him with a triple stint. For United it just gets the motivation going as they head into the next one. Obviously, I’ll be back in the WEC with Peugeot later in the year, but it was nice to carry on with what we achieved together a few years ago.”
“It’s a disappointing race for us given the pace we showed in qualifying and practice and even during the race. We just got unlucky with strategy and a few mistakes which ultimately took us out of contention. Ultimately, it’s still a strong showing at the first round but definitely not how I wanted to start the year. We will bounce back though for sure.”
“I think it’s incredible how things can go wrong and even when you have a great car, how a little slip here and there can turn into an awful weekend. We had a great car, and we had a great start. We managed to lead and have a good first half of the race until the red flag. Then things happened and a chain of events occurred to end us finishing in P7, which is shocking for us after where we had been all week leading up to the race. There’s not much we can do. We just need to reset and I’m sure we will be back at the top again at the next race in Spa. Congratulations to United for the win, I think today a 1-2 would have been possible but it is what it is.”
“It was a good start and my first stint and a half was going well. It was going alright until the FCY. I really started to struggle with the tyres, and I made a couple of mistakes in traffic, which put us in a position to be on an alternate strategy. Typically, it’s a mix of mistakes and luck and at the end it’s disappointing because we had the pace to be on the podium. I have a long list of things to work on and to take away ahead of Spa. But team wise I’m feeling very encouraged with what we’ve got.”
“Wow what a race for the #23 crew. All three of them drive brilliantly and Josh did a fantastic triple stint. It was hugely disappointing for the #22 crew. They deserved much more but I know they will be back stronger at Spa.”
“It’s incredible to be back on the top step of the podium in WEC. It’s been a long week for the team, but they all really deserve this win. Josh has shown what we all saw in Abu Dhabi wasn’t a one off and I’m so happy for him. Paul and Olly did brilliant jobs too. I think we could have had a 1-2 for the team with the #22 crew, but one thing or another got in the way of them getting the result they truly deserved today. I know they will come back stronger at Spa.”
Source United Autosports