- #23 successfully maintains second in team championship standings
- #22 also maintains championship position of eighth
- Impressive sector times set by both cars in final stages
Today, under clear blue skies, the 6 Hours of Fuji made its much-anticipated return to the WEC racing calendar. And while the podium was out of reach, United Autosports has successfully maintained its championship standings of second and eighth ahead of the season finale in Bahrain.
The United two-car entry started mid-field at Fuji Speedway on Sunday 11th September, with the #23 Oreca-07 of Alex Lynn, Oliver Jarvis and Josh Pierson in sixth and the #22 Oreca-07 of Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Will Owen just behind in seventh.
The #22 car fluctuated between seventh and fifth throughout the race, which passed without large-scale incident, safety car or FCY. In the early stages, the car struggled with pace but in the closing laps, it settled in, giving Albuquerque the power to put down competitive sector times. After 224 laps, he crossed the line in seventh, keeping hold of the team’s starting position and bringing home those all-important points.
For the #23 car, the race came alive in the final stages too – Lynn pushing hard with an increase in pace. A quick-fire succession of final fuel stops shook up the order of the lead pack, helping us overtake the #9 Prema Orlen and cross the line in a respectable fifth. Most importantly, enough points were secured to maintain second place in the team championship standings.
With just one race to go in the 2022 season – and points and a half up for grabs at Bahrain – the championship is still alive for the #23 car crew, and the whole team is determined to end the season on a high.
Phil: “We did the best we could today with what we had. All the drivers did a good job and the team executed it perfectly with clean pit stops and no penalties. But unfortunately, we just didn’t have the pace that the top guys had.”
Filipe: “It was a hard weekend for us - it started pretty well but there’s something about us and this track that just hasn’t clicked yet. It is what it is … we just need to understand the reason why, then we can get ready for Bahrain.”
Will: “I’ve really enjoyed Japan – it’s been awesome to come to a place that’s completely new to me. In the race, I pushed really hard but I couldn’t find the pace consistently. We’re going to go back, look at the data and see how we can improve. It’s very close so if you’re down by just a little bit, it really adds up …”
Alex: “In general, I think quite a hard-fought P5. It’s a shame that was all we could grab today but the team worked really hard. There’s some pace to find going into Bahrain.”
Oliver: “The car seemed to come alive in the last few stints, so we need to analyse and understand where that pace suddenly came from. P5 was the best we could do with what we had during the race and there’s certainly a lot of work to do. We’ll come away from here, work hard for Bahrain and hopefully finish the season on a high.”
Josh: “It’s my first time in Fuji – it’s a place I’ve only heard about so finally getting to visit is something special. We were missing something but overall, we had a car we could fight with which Alex showed at the end of the race. I’m happy with how we did but we always want more … and we’ve still got one race left.”
Richard Dean: “It was a difficult start to the race, not helped by our poor qualifying positions. We found it difficult to pass and the race went into a long period of stalemate where nobody seemed to make progress. All the top cars in LMP2 were incredibly evenly matched. Then both our cars came alive and for the last two hours we looked super competitive. A special mention to Alex who put in a really impressive few stints at the end - he was the fastest car on track for pretty much all of the last three stints and his traffic management was top quality. We go to Bahrain with an outside chance of winning back our WEC title which is the all-important part to take away from the weekend.”