The #23 ORECA 07 started on pole position courtesy of Olly Jarvis who dominated the opening stages, handing over to fellow 2022 WEC Sebring race winner, Josh Pierson. American Pierson extended the lead over a triple stint before the car stopped on track, when an electrical failure was caused by a broken in-car TV camera fixture that was not installed by the United Autosports team – a heartbreaking end for the #23 crew.
For the #22 ORECA 07 - it was a story in reverse. Phil Hanson started on the grid in P7, handing the car to Frederick Lubin in P2 for his debut WEC stint. After an early setback relating to a pitstop under FCY, the #22 re-joined the race one lap down … a podium looking unlikely.
With lightening pace, storming lap times and determination to the bitter end, however, the #22 crew turned it around - Filipe Albuquerque bringing the car home in second place. And on top of trophies and podium celebrations, the #22 team also take the championship lead, as the winning #48 car isn’t contesting the full WEC season.
The next stop on the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar is the 6 Hours of Portimão on Sunday 16thApril 2023. In the meantime, stay up to date with the team on social @unitedautosports.
QUALI P7 | RACE P2 | CHAMP P1
Phil Hanson: “Super happy – to come away with maximum points for the race, given that the #48 isn’t a full-time entry, is amazing with the mistake from Freddie early on. We were five seconds behind the win today but we gave away a lap so the pace was there - the car was fantastic and the team did a great job. We were flying, we managed to gain back a lap and to come through to second is a hell of a result. I was really happy with my performance early on and the battles on track in the later part of the race were great.”
Filipe Albuquerque: “Really hard start with a mistake from Freddie pitting … it’s his first WEC race, it is what it is. What defines us is how we come back and deal with the situation. Today, United Autosports was in its own league. We could see the #23 completely dominating this race, but unfortunately they had something really unusual happen with a broken camera. Then we fought back, putting everybody on the limit because we came back from one minute off without safety cars … it was pure pace. The car was just brilliant, it should have been a 1-2 today but we are leading the championship because the car that won is not a full-timer. So at the end of the day we need to be really proud of what we've done and happy with the result we have.”
Frederick Lubin: “So happy for the team – an incredible job. I want to take this chance to make an apology – I put us a lap down at the start, made a huge mistake. But the team has been phenomenal, the strategy to get us back to where we are has been insane. I’m incredibly lucky to have teammates like Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque – they’re the ones who brought us back at the end. A great result, second place and top of the championship because the winning car isn’t registered for the season. We’ll keep our chin up and our eyes forward for the next one."
QUALI P1 | RACE DNF | CHAMP P10
Josh Pierson: “The race started out really positive. Olly did a great job to stick it on pole, the car had lots of pace and we were quite confident going in. We knew we had a good car under us and a great team … it was just about putting the pieces together. We had a great first stint from Olly, I jumped in to do the triple and had strong pace throughout, but then with four laps to go the TV camera broke and ended our race. It’s really hard to put into words how it feels when it’s not yours or the team’s fault. It makes it even worse that something outside our control ended up putting the car back in the garage. But we’ve got a full season ahead so now it’s about picking up the pieces and seeing how we can salvage the championship.”
Oliver Jarvis: “It’s been a fantastic build-up to the race – we’ve gone about our business, working on the car and that showed in qualifying where the team gave me an amazing set-up and I was able to put it on pole. From there, we had a good start to the race – the team made an excellent strategy call early on which put us in a very strong position. Josh did a really good job with a triple stint … we were controlling the race and he was coming towards the end – then the onboard camera has turned the electrics off in the car. It’s a really tough one to take because it’s outside our control so we’re all absolutely gutted right now. But we’ve got to look at the positives and that’s the performance we’ve shown this weekend.”
Tom Blomqvist: “I’m gutted for the team – the whole #23 crew have done an absolutely fantastic job. We were leading comfortably, we had a great strategy. Josh did an amazing job extending our lead – he was just about to finish his triple and I was about to get in. To have it go like that is just … it’s heartbreaking. It really is painful. I feel so sorry for everyone - for Josh and Olly, for the whole crew - after putting in such a fantastic job. We’ve been here nearly 10 days now and for it to end like that is very hard to take.”
Richard Dean: "It’s times like this when you love racing and hate racing. The positives are the pace from both cars … I don’t think anyone would have touched us here with a clean race, as demonstrated by the #23 with Olly Jarvis and Josh Pierson pulling away. The work that’s gone in to have such pace is phenomenal, the drivers are saying the cars are incredible … so it’s cruel when the win is taken away from the #23 like that, but we have to analyse it. I know it was something we didn’t install in the car … it’s one in a million, but we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And for the #22, that was quite the recovery. They never gave up, a real fight to the end … we could have won with luck on our side, but we’ll take it!”