A red flag during the earlier GT Qualifying session pushed the race schedule back at the Dubai Autodrome. When Qualifying did go ahead for the prototype classes just after 12 noon, however, United Autosports secured a second row start with P4 for the #23 and P9 in class for the #22 (P21 overall).
At 16:45 local-time, the flag dropped and the #4HDubai race commenced. An electrical fault meant the #23 ORECA 07 was still in the garage - but Yasser Shahin was able to join from the pit lane after the first lap, while Jim McGuire (#22) navigated his way through the field.
After four hours of traffic management, time-saving stops and slick driver changes, the two United Autosports cars managed to turn around a tricky start to achieve a solid P5 (#22) and P6 (#23) result – and with three races left to go in the Asian Le Mans Series, the championship is still very much in sight.
QUALI P9 (in class) | RACE P5
Jim McGuire: “I thought I had a good stint. We started pretty far back which was unfortunate … I had a tough quali, but I just kept pushing as hard as I could. During the FCY, we made some gains and then the boys did the rest. Unfortunately, we ended up a lap down and we couldn’t get back, but to finish in P5 after where we started … I’m very proud of all the drivers and everybody on the team.”
Phil Hanson: “We finished P5 today – a pretty solid result considering we lost a couple of laps early on due to traffic and some slow cars. I got in with my first experience of the night in Dubai - the race was meant to be mostly during the day but it ended up being later, so I had to adapt and learn in the dark which was a good test. We know we can make improvements, we know we have pace to find, so tomorrow is another chance."
Paul Di Resta: “Today was hard work, but I think we got what we could out of it. We were on the back foot but we worked away and we maximised what we could. There are a lot of optimisations for tomorrow, we can make the car better. And heading into Abu Dhabi next week, we’re going to start with a really strong base given where we left off last year when we won both races with Josh Pierson [read the race report]. Now, we’ll get some rest and come back fighting."
QUALI P4 | RACE P6
Yasser Shahin: “We had a horrible start unfortunately - put on an excellent showing in Qualifying and then had a car problem which stopped us starting the race. We had to start from the pit lane and wait until everybody had gone past so essentially we started almost two laps down. However, it felt like we drove the wheels off it - I don’t think I could have done more in my stint, I was really happy with how it went … the car was really strong, Garnet did a fantastic job and Olly brought it home. It’s pretty hard to come back from here but we’re certainly not going to give up. I think the hard wins are going to mean the most, so bring on tomorrow.”
Garnet Patterson: “Disappointing start to the series … no fault of anyone’s, just an electrical issue which put us behind at the start of the race. We missed the pit entry to go to the grid, so started more than a lap down. After that, Yasser did a good job to get through the GTs … we had a strong race car, but when you’re that far down it’s hard to get the lead lap back. It’s the one that got away, it could have been a podium at least – so we’ll regroup and go tomorrow.”
Oliver Jarvis: “Really difficult race for us … we got unlucky with an electrical fault at the beginning. The United Autosports guys did an amazing job to get the car out but unfortunately we missed the formation lap so we started a lap and a half down. I have to say, Yasser did an incredible job – his first race in an LMP2 car and he absolutely smashed it, and Garnet was mega too. We battled for four hours to close the gap but it just wasn't possible … but we take the positives. We learn, improve the car a bit and work on tomorrow. I think we're looking good for Race 2, we just need to get on the grid at the right time!"
Max Gregory: “First race of the season and a dose of bad luck with an electrical problem holding the #23 back in the garage. It meant losing our starting position on the grid and due to the regulations, having to start the race a lap and a half behind. The team worked fast to solve the issue, so well done to the guys for that. But ultimately, we started the race a lap and a half down and finished the race a lap and a half down, which shows where we could have been.
The #22 team also made a valiant effort after a tricky start down the grid. We have some work to do on the car and setup but I am confident we’ll be in a strong position to take on Race 2 tomorrow. There’s a long way to go yet in this series and we are looking forward to seeing what we can do.”