Josh Caygill brought the #2 Ligier JS P320 in to podium contention, after approaching the halfway point of the race before handing over to Bailey Voisin, who led the race in the LMP3 category before pitting with 90mins to go. Finn Gehrsitz then took the wheel, always running inside the top-three, before Josh finished his required bronze driver time, leading in the final hour, eventually bringing the #2 home, third. Great potential shown for the young trio who both raced in their first European Le Mans Series LMP3 race today.
United Autosports showed strong and consistent pace in both the LMP2 and LMP3 categories in the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard – the UK-based team claiming its 11th Ricard podium and sixth LMP3 top-three finish at the French track.
The #22 Oreca-07 swept into the lead after 13mins, having started second on the grid after Tom Gamble’s valiant qualifying efforts. Hanson set a series of fastest laps – ultimately missing out on the outright fastest time by 0.015s in the closing stages – with Tappy and then Gamble, running solidly inside the top-10 throughout. An unfortunate puncture required an unscheduled stop after 103 minutes during Duncan’s stints and paired with an FCY, the race win became quickly out of reach for the #22 Oreca-07. Tom fought hard, ultimately crossing the line in seventh.
The #3 AERO Ligier JS P320 made two, very early, unscheduled pit-stops. The first was for repairs after Jim McGuire sustained damage on the opening lap of the race, leaving him with a puncture. An emergency pit stop to rectify the puncture, in a closed pit then resulted in the stop-go penalty, affecting the remainder of #3’s race.
#22 Phil Hanson (GBR)/Tom Gamble (GBR)/Duncan Tappy (GBR)
Qualified (LMP2): 2nd (TG). Race (LMP2): 7th
“Started from second, led after a few laps and pulled a gap which was cancelled out by Safety Cars. We lost time due to a wheel gun issue at my first stop. Managed to get a couple of places back before Duncan had the puncture. A top-two result was easily possible today.”
“My race stints were good, just a massive shame I picked up a puncture. My pace was good and the car was brilliant. Racing in ELMS LMP2 was all a bit new. Feeling like a ‘rookie’ was odd but I tried to absorb as much info as I could all week.”
“It’s a frustrating result considering our quali and race starting pace. Punctures happen and we’ll all bounce back from it. We had a very strong car today, can take away many positives and now focus on Imola.”
#2 Josh Caygill (GBR)/Bailey Voisin (GBR)/Finn Gehrsitz (DEU)
Qualified (LMP3): 5th (FG). Race (LMP3): 3rd
“To finish on the podium in my first race for United and my first LMP3 race is a dream come true. The #2 crew and team have done a mega job over the weekend. I quietly chipped away and made it happen when it was needed. A great start to the season.”
“It’s great to be on the podium in my first ELMS race – a result I achieved with United in Euro GT4 last year. It’s a positive result for the team – they worked very hard with the three of us. Getting used to the traffic was interesting and now I can’t wait for Imola!”
“It’s amazing to achieve a podium on my United debut. Josh got us in the top-three so from then on, it was all about strategy. All three drivers believed that we had the pace and the car was very good.”
#3 Jim McGuire (USA)/Kay Van Berlo (NED)/Andrew Bentley (GBR)
Qualified (LMP3): 7th (KVB). Race (LMP3): 8th
“I made a great start but was then tagged into a spin at the end of the first lap – which was very frustrating. I had to pit twice. We missed out on a discretionary wave around for some reason and I struggled to get back into a rhythm for the rest of my stint. A tough day for sure.”
“Really enjoyed my stint – the car was good all week. It’s just a shame Jim had an issue and we missed out on wave-bys. Looking forward to Italy where we hopefully can enjoy better fortunes.”
“My stint was pretty good. We were out of contention after early issues. For me, it was a case of being consistently fast, making up as many positions as possible and bringing the car home in one piece. We regroup now and look forward to better times at Imola.”
“We showed good, strong pace in both categories. Awesome to get another LMP3 podium at Ricard. The #22’s puncture cost us at least a podium while #3 recovered well after Jim was spun around on lap one. On to Imola!”
“For the #3 car, their race was pretty much over on the first lap, when Jim got hit at no fault of his own, and to add insult to injury he suffered a puncture, having to bring the car in for an emergency pit when the pits were still closed. The team then served the stop-and go penalty for this emergency pit and stayed focused to bring the car back into the points by the end of the race. It was a great weekend for the #2 car to get on the podium. So much potential from those three and they’re only going to get better, so nice for them to get home with a trophy and some champagne.
For the #22, to have a potential race win taken away from us because of a puncture is tough to take. We were almost certainly fast enough for pole and our race pace was enough that we led the race at the start, but when you have a puncture and have to do an extra pitstop more than everyone, it’s not going to result in us winning. Therefore, I think salvaging some points at the end was the best we could hope for.”
Source. United Autosports