After a strong Qualifying session yesterday (Friday 28th April) in the hands of 2022 IMSA Dpi champion Blomqvist, the #23 started on pole.
When the race began, Blomqvist extended a commanding lead of more than 40 seconds in the first 90 minutes - before a Safety Car cancelled out the advantage, with the #23 dropping to P7 shortly after. Fast forward to the final hour and Jarvis reclaimed the lead, handing over to Blomqvist in P1 before a last-minute race for fuel saw the #41 WRT lead out of the pitlane to take the win.
For the sister #22 ORECA 07 of Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Frederick Lubin, it was a more challenging start, with the weather conditions causing a spin for Hanson on the installation lap, and damage to the front left corner. The #22 crew battled on valiantly - with both Albuquerque and Hanson laying down LMP2 fastest laps during their stints - to cross the line P5, with another all-important haul of points to maintain their world championship lead.
Next up, it’s the big one … the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Follow the team to this historic event on social @unitedautosports.
QUALI P1 | RACE P2 | CHAMP P3
Josh Pierson: “A solid step for us with good points again! Despite a small spin at the last corner, my pace was strong. Overall, it was a great race for the team with more points after our Sebring disappointment … and it’s all about consistently scoring points at every race. Now we look forward to Le Mans.”
Oliver Jarvis: "When you’re fighting and in the lead it’s easy to be disappointed coming so close. But with the way the race went … the conditions and multiple Safety Cars … P2 is a very good result. We were unlucky to lose our 45 second lead due to a Safety Car but the team made a fantastic pit-stop call later in the race to jump back up the order. So we leave with good points. Our Portimão win and second place here is building nicely towards Le Mans. Credit to the team, they did a fantastic job.”
Tom Blomqvist: “That was an emotional rollercoaster … I had a commanding lead which was neutralised due to a Safety Car, which compromised our race and put us on the back foot. We lost time and track position because of it. But we chipped away throughout the race and the guys brought us back into contention. A fantastic effort from the team. Great momentum. Good points.”
QUALI P7 | RACE P5 | CHAMP P1
Phil Hanson: “I can’t ignore the mistake I made on the formation lap. I consider myself lucky with the amount of damage we did … it could easily have been race-ending. It was one of those moments that can catch a driver out but there’s no excuse for it. I’ll learn from it and take more caution – it’s a fine balance. I did a good job in the race, getting us back into contention and P3. Unfortunately, with the strategy that unfolded towards the end, and additional Safety Cars, it meant we dropped back to P5. We maybe lacked some pace compared to the front runners – perhaps there was carry-over damage from my incident. But we recovered well."
Filipe Albuquerque: “A hard weekend for me and our car. We started really well in Free Practice with good pace, but Qualifying was weird for us. The start of the race was chaotic for everyone but especially for us when we had big contact with the wall. It could have been race over but we kept going. We were lucky! We had ups and downs … sometimes the Safety Car helped us but the last one helped our rivals who pitted and then had a better strategy for their late splash stops.”
Frederick Lubin: “A bit disappointed. I think we should have achieved a top-three considering our pace. Phil unfortunately crashed before the race had started … they were super tricky conditions today. We seemed to be on the bad side of luck with the Safety Cars but I was happy with my stints. So there are a lot of positives for me to take home … next, we’re heading to Le Mans!”
Richard Dean: “So much happened in those six hours, it was difficult at times to see exactly where it was all going to shake out with much of the LMP2 field on different tyre/fuel strategies … combined with the multiple Safety Cars! We had opportunities to win it. The #23 was unlucky with the first Safety Car when we lost an almost 50 second lead. But a Safety Car also brought the #22 back into play after incurring damage on the installation lap. So we won and we lost. Second place, a good finish and P5 but somehow it feels as though we should have achieved more . . . but that’s Spa for you!”