Phil Hanson (#22) took the lead of the race within minutes, disappearing into the distance as the rest of the pack struggled with heavy spray – at some points leading by more than a minute. Marino Sato took over, maintaining track position and handing over to Olly Jarvis – before a Safety Car wiped the time boards and reset the grid. Jarvis stormed out of the restart and thundered to the line, securing back-to-back victories, the LMP2 Pro vice-championship title and, with it, an automatic entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year.
For the #21 Pro/Am ORECA 07, which started in the thick of the pack in P8, track conditions were trickier. Daniel Schneider kept the car safe and Andy Meyrick made good progress through traffic, before Nelson Piquet Jr suffered a slide into the gravel with 1 hour 20 minutes on the clock, dropping the #21 to the back of the grid. The team persevered, however, to cross the line P9 in class and maintain P5 in the Pro/Am championship.
That’s a wrap for the 2023 European Le Mans Series – but we’re not done racing yet. Next, we’re going to Bahrain for the final of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Stay up to date on social media @unitedautosports.
QUALI P2 | RACE P1 | CHAMP P2
Phil Hanson: “Really happy to come away with back-to-back wins to end the year. The team executed a really good race, we had a strong car in all conditions. I was able to do my part and build a good gap at the beginning, and then hand over to Marino who did a great job on holding onto that lead. Unfortunately a Safety Car put an end to that gap, but Olly did a great job again, just like on Friday, holding onto it and managing it in tricky conditions. So yeah, I’m really happy to come away with this double win and show people what could have been this year … if not for a little bit of misfortune in Spa. But with second in the championship, the team get that entry to Le Mans – so I’m happy with that.”
Marino Sato: “That was a completely different race to Friday but the outcome was similarly great. Phil had a very good start to pull the gap away … I managed that and handed over to Olly with a reasonable gap – before a Safety Car put that to zero, so he had to start again. He did a great stint. Three wins out of six races this year … the team deserve it so I’m really happy for everyone here. I think it’s been a decent first year in sportscars for me, and I’ve had great fun with Olly and Phil.”
Oliver Jarvis: “Another stressful race to be honest! But to come away with a double victory this weekend has been amazing. It makes you look back and think … if we hadn’t been so unlucky earlier in the season, we could have been fighting for the overall championship. But it’s a nice way to end the season. It was a tough race! Phil did a great job, then Marino got in and drove superbly … and at the end, I jumped in on slicks in tricky conditions – but the team did everything right and we brought the car home for a double win. Doesn’t get much better than that!”
QUALI P8 | RACE P9 (IN CLASS) | CHAMP P5
Daniel Schneider: “We were expecting to finish on a high but the massive rain caught us off guard. It was my first time in these conditions, so I didn’t have the pace that we were aiming for. But it was a great year … having two podiums on my first LMP2 season is really encouraging. None of it would be possible without United Autosports, they always nail the strategy. Let’s see what 2024 brings to us …”
Andy Meyrick: “Pretty disappointing way to finish the season. Super tricky conditions for everybody. We gave it our best shot, but it wasn’t to be. Still, we can be proud of the season we’ve had – as always, an amazing job by everybody at United Autosports and both of my teammates.”
Nelson Piquet Jr: “Tough race. I took a little bit too much of a risk on the damp track to try to recover our laps down and it didn’t work. After that I just brought the car home safely. Shame we ended this way as we had good potential to finish better, but it was a good year.”
Max Gregory: “What a fantastic way to end the season with two wins for the #22 in Portimão. Before the weekend we knew that to have a shot at the championship, we had to win both races and the rest just depended on where the other cars finished. The two races here in Portimao were far from straight forward, so absolute credit to the team, the crew and the drivers because we did just that. It's a shame that ultimately the championship didn't come our way, but the guys and girls at United Autosports can be extremely proud that they did everything they could.
To win 50% of the races in the 2023 European Le Mans Series and still miss out on the championship title doesn't feel right, but without the turn 1 collision at Spa that effectively took us out of contention, it's clear that we could have won it.
The #21 has also had a great year, with two podiums on our debut season in the Pro/Am class, in what is an extremely competitive field. Daniel, Andy and Nelson have worked incredibly hard over the course of the season and I'm glad they had that work rewarded with some great results.
Huge congratulations to the team and drivers, thank you for all your hard work – we can come home feeling proud.”