United Autosports scored an emphatic LMP3 victory with their #3 Ligier (Kay Van Berlo/Andrew Bentley) and second place overall with its #22 Oreca (Phil Hanson/Tom Gamble/Duncan Tappy) in the second round of the European Le Mans Series at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari track in Italy today (15 May).
#3 raced without Jim McGuire, absent due to unforeseen business commitments, and swept into the class lead with just over an hour gone. The #3’s driving duo set consistently fast laps, extending their advantage to an incredible one-lap gap at the chequered flag. While United have won Asian Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 races, the result marked the team’s first ELMS LMP3 victory since Portimão in 2020.
#22 held a strong podium position for much of the four-hour race, the driving trio each completing incident-free stints, the Oreca setting its fastest race lap in the closing stages to bring the winning margin down to less than five-seconds at the finish.
LMP3 runners-up at Paul Ricard, #2 challenged for fourth early on but retired approaching mid-distance with a cooling issue, the entire race run in very hot conditions. ELMS back at the historic and picturesque circuit in Imola for first time in six-years, produced an exciting and incident filled race featuring six Full Course Yellows and two Safety Car periods.
#3 Kay Van Berlo (NED)/Andrew Bentley (GBR)
Qualified (LMP3): 11th (KVB). Race (LMP3): 1st
Andrew: “The car was brilliant from lap one, our engineer and crew did a great job while my sincere thanks go to Jim [McGuire]. We missed him but I’m so happy to get a result for AERO, for him and United. I could have pushed harder but I was conscious it was a four-hour race and not a 30min sprint.”
Kay: “Super happy with the result but it’s a shame Jim wasn’t here. Starting P11, we knew we were strong and I was confident of a good result. Andrew drove mega stints and we had a good gap when I got in the car. I drove consistently and made no mistakes, had no pressure from behind and the team’s strategy was flawless. Quali was disappointing having had three lap times taken away due to track limits.”
#22 Phil Hanson (GBR)/Tom Gamble (GBR)/Duncan Tappy (GBR)
Qualified (LMP2): 6th (PH). Race (LMP2): 2nd
Duncan: “I’m really happy as it’s my maiden podium in a P2 car and the first time I have ever actually taken the start in a P2. I was delighted with how my first couple of stints went, my pace was strong, stayed out of trouble and handed the car over in one piece. We’ll keep working hard and see where the rest of the season takes us.”
Phil: “It’s nice to come away with a second and get some championship points which puts us back in the title hunt with four races to go. We were very aggressive with tyre strategy which meant my two stints were on Duncan’s tyres. It looked like we’d finish fourth but we got lucky with an FCY to finish second – we deserved a change in fortune as recent races haven’t gone our way.”
Tom: “It was a good, if not tough race and it’s very nice to be back on the podium. The strategy came to us and put us second – a great job by the team. We can build on this result and try and chase down the Prema team who have been really strong in both races. I am hopeful we can start challenging for victories – ideally at the next race at Monza.”
#2 Josh Caygill (GBR)/Bailey Voisin (GBR)/Finn Gehrsitz (DEU)
Qualified (LMP3): 4th (VB). Race (LMP3): DNF
Josh: “Retiring was a big disappointment. I had good pace and was in the ballpark but things didn’t go our way. I had a visibility problem due to oil on the screen from another car before we had a coolant issue which caused the car’s retirement. A really strong weekend which unfortunately didn’t come to anything so we’ll move on to Monza. Congrats to our ‘sister’ car”.
Bailey: “The car felt great from the start of the event, so a great job by the team. Qualifying was a really cool and interesting experience and I was happy to claim P4. We were looking strong but unfortunately had an issue with the car. but it was great to see the ‘sister’ car on the top step of the podium. It was the first time for me at Imola and I really enjoyed the track.”
Finn: “The beginning of the race looked really promising for us, Josh had strong pace and also the first steps of strategy were perfect. But then we got the problem and had to retire. Of course I’m frustrated that I couldn’t drive in the race, because I liked the track a lot. I will train hard for Monza so that I’m perfectly prepared.”
“We came close to another LMP2 win but had to be content with P2. In LMP3, #3 had a clean, consistent and fast race, unlike Ricard, scoring an awesome class win while the #2 this time had the problems in the race. But a very solid weekend for United as we now look ahead to the big one in France before we’re back in ELMS action at Monza in July.”
“It’s been a good weekend with our cars on the podium in all three categories [ELMS and MLMC]. The #2’s retirement was unlucky especially with their position in the championship after Ricard. Great drives by Andrew and Kay in #3 and strategy from the pit wall earned them a commanding one-lap victory. In LMP2, starting P6 was always going to be tough and we needed it to fall for us: sometimes it didn’t but sometimes it did. I think a roll of the dice paid off in the end and it’s nice to get a second place. A good weekend.”
Source. United Autosports