United Autosports celebrated its fifth European Le Mans Series podium of the season yesturday (Sunday 16thOctober) at the 4 Hours of Portimão. The Ligier of Josh Caygill, Finn Gehrsitz and Bailey Voisin claimed second place in LMP3, having overcome extremely tricky track conditions caused by intermittent rain showers in Portugal.
The result at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve marked United’s 34th LMP3 podium since its 2016 series debut in the category, and the team’s seventh podium at the Portimão track since 2017.
Sadly, podium finishes evaded the other United cars in today’s championship finale. In a close call, #3 Jim McGuire, Kay Van Berlo and Andrew Bentley finished just 3.5 seconds off the LMP3 podium, crossing the line in fourth – and unfortunately, the #22 car of Duncan Tappy, Tom Gamble and Phil Hanson retired in the final hour with an LMP2 podium within their grasp.
United’s trio of entries started fifth (#22 – LMP2), third (#3 – LMP3) and eighth (#2 – LMP3) on the 40-car multi-class grid. In contrast to the previous days, which had seen cloudless blue skies and hot weather conditions in the Algarve, it was cloudy, cooler and the track was wet after a rain shower.
Despite the greasy conditions, the entire field began on slick tyres – the track drying quickly. After the opening hour, the #22 Oreca placed sixth overall, having briefly snatched second early on. In LMP3, the #2 car ran third in class, with the #3 in 11th – the latter having served a drive-through penalty.
At mid-distance, #22 lay fourth. In LMP3, #2 had taken second with #3 just behind in 5th and rain falling again.
With 90 minutes remaining, #22 was second but entering the final hour, Hanson – on slicks during his first push lap – spun into the gravel on the greasy track when challenging for third, dropping to seventh. In LMP3, #2 and #3 lay third and fifth with an hour to run.
At the chequered flag, #2 placed second – its second podium of the season having celebrated as runner-up at the Paul Ricard opener. With a boost of points, the #2 car finished seventh in the LMP3 Team’s standings.
The Imola race-winning #3 car came home in fourth at Portimão, earning sixth overall in the final LMP3 Teams’ standings.
Finally, the Spa race-winning #22 car, which also finished second at Imola, retired after a spin and subsequent damage, claiming third in the Teams’ championship.
#22 Phil Hanson (GB) / Tom Gamble (GB) / Duncan Tappy (GB)
Qualified (LMP2): 5th (TG). Race (LMP2): DNF
Duncan: “It was looking good for us today but it was super tricky conditions. My goal was to keep it on the track and hand it over safely which I did. Luck wasn’t on our side for a couple of races this season but we always had good pace. A massive thank you to Richard [Dean] for entrusting me to drive #22 with Phil and Tom.”
Tom: “With a little over an hour to go, we were ending the season as championship runners-up and to subsequently get a DNF is heart-breaking. It’s a tough end to the year but that’s motorsport. It was a tricky race, conditions were horrible with rain on and off with the car on slicks.”
Phil: “I let the team down today and that’s very disappointing. I came out of the pits in fourth place on slicks in the rain and, trying to get into third place, I lost the car and beached the rear wheels in the gravel at Turn 11. I got going again eventually but there was big floor damage and a clutch problem.”
#2 Josh Caygill (GB) / Bailey Voisin (GB) / Finn Gehrsitz (DE)
Qualified (LMP3): 8th (BV). Race (LMP3): 2nd
Josh: “A mega way to end the season. We knew we had a strong car in terms of race pace. We had a clean race and kept out of trouble in very tricky conditions. It’s good to finally get another top result to go with the P2 at Ricard that’s eluded us in recent races.”
Finn: “It was such a tricky race. I was on slicks and it started to rain again. Not easy for all three of us but we made no mistakes which was the key. We all worked hard and improved the car with each session. It’s a great way to end the season.”
Bailey: “Second place is a fantastic way to end the season having started the year off with P2. We’ve had our fair share of bad luck during the season so to end the season on a high is definitely what we needed and thoroughly deserved. The team have done a fantastic job throughout the season for us.”
#3 Jim McGuire (USA) / Kay Van Berlo (NED) / Andrew Bentley (GB)
Qualified (LMP3): 3rd (KvB). Race (LMP3): 4th
Jim: “Today’s race was bittersweet. It’s the end of the year – my sixth year with United – and I’ve enjoyed every minute, so for this to be the last race is sad. Unfortunately, a couple of minutes before the finish, an FCY cost us a potential podium to finish out the year – which would have been incredible. But the takeaway is a great result with P4.”
Kay: “Pretty happy but another couple of laps we would have been third. We were really quick this weekend and our race pace was good in difficult conditions. It was an enjoyable season and improved with every race. We all made big progress.”
Andrew: “I should be happy and proud to have finished fourth but having been so close to claiming third, I’m a little disappointed. We all did everything we could do today and were unlucky with the FCYs. The conditions were difficult but we all did a clean race with good pace.”
Source. United Autosports