The United Autosports duo narrowly missed out on a double top-10 finish, with the #23 ORECA 07 of Josh Pierson, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist taking P8, followed by the #22 ORECA 07 of Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Frederick Lubin in P11.
Crucially, however, with three teams that are not contesting the full 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship season finishing in the top 10 at Le Mans, both United cars will come away with a haul of double championship points.
It was a solid start for both cars, with Albuquerque (#22) and Blomqvist (#23) making up seven positions apiece during the first hour. Fast forward to hour 2, however – and the rain began, with contact for Lubin in the #22, causing damage and a three-minute stop and go penalty. The team fought back valiantly, also overcoming a suspension issue in the final stages, to cross the line just outside the top ten in P11.
For the #23, the first seven hours saw them lead the pack on three separate occasions, storming up the field from their starting position of P14 - before a run into the gravel at Mulsanne, which is the suspected cause of brake failure at the next corner, which lead to a heavy impact for Blomqvist.
Further investigation is required to determine the exact chain of events. However, after getting the all-clear at the medical centre, Blomqvist re-joined the fight, working night and day with Pierson and Jarvis to claim back lost positions. Progress was hampered further by a puncture but the team never gave up, working their way from P17 after the Mulsanne incident to P8 at the finish.
Next stop on the FIA WEC calendar is the 6 Hours of Monza on 8-9th July. In the meantime, stay up to date with the team on social @unitedautosports.
QUALI P10 | RACE P11 | CHAMP P3
Phil Hanson: “That’s my seventh Le Mans under my belt but it was a disappointing end to a very promising week. We had a very strong race car, we were fast throughout all phases of the race, but we lost the race too early on with the incident Freddie had. That’s what killed us. It’s very unfortunate but we have to take away the positives and the steps we made this week. United gave us a fantastic car. We’re a little on the back foot in the championship now but there is still a long way to go. We have to just try and process what we can from this and move forward.”
Filipe Albuquerque: “At Le Mans everyone has a story. We won here in 2020 and once again we had a car capable of winning this fantastic race. We had amazing pace, but a mistake cost us and just one issue is all it takes. United Autosports gave Phil, Freddie and I an amazing car and we learned more about it this weekend for future races. Of course, there’s an emptiness for the entire #22 crew. But we’ll come back stronger.”
Frederick Lubin: “I’m bitterly disappointed. The reason we are where we finished is because of my mistake. There is no hiding that. From my side, it was an honest mistake but one which I accept. I came onto the Mulsanne Straight after Tertre Rouge and two GT cars were fighting side-by-side. There was space on the inside and I put wheels on the hard shoulder which dragged the car aggressively over massive bumps. There was nothing I could do. I lost control and hit the Porsche. I’m so sorry to the Dempsey-Proton Racing team. My first Le Mans, my first 24 hour race. The fight continues. On to Monza.”
QUALI P14 | RACE P8 | CHAMP P4
Josh Pierson: “As a car crew, we had a lot of ups and downs. We got off to a great start, charging through the field. We survived the rain. Tom unfortunately went off and then found himself without any brakes. The crew did a great job putting everything back together. But it was hard for me to get in and have complete confidence in the brake pedal. It was mentally challenging, but I overcame it. Then Olly had an issue. But that’s racing sometimes.”
Oliver Jarvis: “I’m disappointed because as a driver, you don’t get many chances at winning Le Mans. We had a car that was more than capable of victory. Tom had a brake issue and we fought hard to come back. We had incredible pace. Then a wheel came off when I was driving in the early hours of Sunday morning which killed any glimmer of hope we had of clawing ourselves back into contention. I’m gutted for Richard, Zak and the team.”
Tom Blomqvist: “This race can be brutal and the last 24 hours have definitely been that for us! It’s a shame. Sometimes you need someone looking over you to make everything work round here. We were unfortunate to have a couple of ‘events’ in the race which ruined our chances of victory. I went wide at Mulsanne through the gravel on slicks but it was still wet there. When I got to Porsche I had no brakes and it was wet off line. The car spun and hit the barrier. The boys have worked so hard. Josh and Olly drove flawlessly so it’s a shame not to get rewarded with a result. We are all incredibly disappointed. We just have to crack on now and focus on the championship.”
Zak Brown: “Super frustrating. We had the speed to win Le Mans again, but we had bad luck too. The drivers and the entire team deserved success, everyone worked so hard and both cars showed awesome pace. We’ll regroup and come out fighting again for the remaining WEC races - starting at Monza next month.”
Richard Dean: “You can’t just turn up at Le Mans expecting to win but we definitely had the pace to do just that - we had two fast cars, six fast drivers and great team spirit. We suffered damage and setbacks with both cars, making it hard to recover. The competition is so fierce throughout the 24-car entry … despite a high attrition rate, pulling back laps is very difficult because the competition is so high. Typically, the entire team never gave up. They’ve put a lot of work into this event, for months beforehand and throughout the fortnight in Le Mans. We’ll be back!”