UNITED AUTOSPORTS SCORES STUNNING MLMC PODIUM IN SEARING BARCELONA HEAT
- Brilliant drives from Guasch/Boyd earn Anglo-American team its 153rd podium
- McGuire stars but puncture & gearbox gremlin robs #22 of likely top-five placing
- Strong Hodes top-10 showing halted approaching mid-distance
United’s #24 Ligier placed an excellent third in the hotly-contested LMP3 field staged over two-hours in energy-sapping 30C plus ambient temperatures. #22 looked set for a top-five but a puncture and gearbox issue delayed it in the closing stages while #23 retired from the top-10 approaching mid-distance.
United Autosports is now placed fifth (#24), 11th (#22) and 16th (#23) in the 21-car LMP3 Teams’ rankings after today’s (20 July) Michelin Le Mans Cup race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in which the Anglo-American team achieved the incredible feat of scoring its 153rd podium in just 10 years of competition history.
The penultimate round of this year’s MLMC is held at Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) on 21 September.
#22 McGuire/Bell. Qualified: 19th (JM). Race: Retired (LMP3)
#23 Hodes/Grist. Qualified: 8th (RH). Race: Retired (LMP3)
#24 Guasch/Boyd.Qualified: 12th (MG). Race: 3rd (LMP3)
#23 (RH) and #24 (MG) began from their best start positions of season in P8 and P12 respectively with #22 (JM) starting P19 but at the completion of the opening lap #24 lay 10th after a great start, #23 11th while McGuire was up to an amazing 13th in #22 after a lightning start. Hodes re-took Guasch on lap two for 10th, #23 & #24 both running inside the top-10 with 16 minutes gone with #22 12th.
#23 spun out of 8th on 23 minutes (lap 12) just ahead of the closely following #24, Guasch going off track in avoidance of Hodes who slipped to 10th just ahead of #22 prior to a brief Full Course Yellow. United’s #24, #23 and #22 trio ran inside the top-10 when the race went green again with 31 minutes gone but Hodes lost places with a spin on 45 minutes before ending the #23’s race in the gravel when trying to overtake #22 around the outside, the American losing grip on the rubber marbles.
#24 and #22 ran 7th and 9th following a second FCY on 50 minutes, Boyd and Bell taking over their respective #24 & #22 Ligiers on 56 mintues, resuming 5th and 9th. #22 dropped from 9th to 12th when a front right wheel was changed due to a suspected puncture with 38 minutes remaining but returned to the pits a lap later to change the rear left, resuming an unrepresentative 15th. A charging Boyd took 3rd in the #24 with 32 minutes left while Bell pitted again with 15 minutes remaining and subsequently retired with a gearbox issue.
“We didn’t have our set-up proper for quali, had a lot of understeer so I couldn’t get any time out of it. I just went out as hard as I could in the race. The opening lap was fun making up so many places. I just went as fast as I could early. It’s our first time here for Matt and me. There was zero test days ahead of time which was a mistake because I think we are still not even where we would be after a proper testing but overall it was good. It’s a great track and we just had some unfortunate issues in Matt’s stints but that’s racing. It happens.”
“It was a race of two halves. I was pretty fired up getting in the car because obviously we’d had a difficult day so far. We had been trying things through practice and the benefit of being in a team like United Autosports is everyone pulls resources so we came back to a car that we were happy with. Jim had a monumental stint. 19thto 13that the start while everyone else was asleep. His pace throughout the race was really good and consistent and it had me really revved-up for the second half. I was catching the car hand over fist that ended up in fifth place so I think there was absolutely a fifth and maybe better there. But what could go wrong did go wrong with punctures and other problems so it’s a shame.”
“I was going well and had qualified as the second fastest Ligier so we were happy. Good race with good pace. Mike [Guasch] was pushing me hard from the back and at a certain point I made a mistake. That was kind of the end of our race. So, I’m very, very disappointed but it was a great week. We were fast so those are the positives to take away.”
“Rob’s pace was really good. The fastest Ligier for most of the stint but unfortunately it didn’t end that way. I was quickest or second quickest pretty much in every session so it’s a shame I didn’t get to drive. Unfortunately it didn’t end our way but still it’s the first year over here. We have a lot to learn. The hardest race is probably done. In the US you get a cool suit, air conditioning, you get everything. Here you get nothing. They don’t even allow air conditioning. For the older guys, in these temperatures, it’s a bit stupid in my opinion but rules are rules."
“I’m not the best qualifier in the world and didn’t qualify well. I didn’t push hard enough early on in quali so knew I’d have better pace in the race. I got it up to seventh, right on the sixth and fifth-placed cars before we had a big yellow and handed the car to Wayne who jumped cars in the pits. I’m new to this series and I love it. An awesome race.”
“I am very, very happy to get a podium. Mike did a good job in his first stint, stayed out of trouble and moved up. The pit-stop was bang on the money and we were able to jump some cars and obviously then I had a move for third which was great. The last 25 minutes was just a matter of staying ahead. I was also monitoring the tyres. A huge thank you to the team who did a really good job.”
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“Fantastic to be present for our team’s 153rdpodium finish since the team began racing in 2010. All of our drivers shone in the high temperatures which made it very tough for them. Credit, too, to the team, our pit-stops were faultless and helped Wayne and Mike achieve third place.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“I honestly don’t believe we could have got any more than a podium finish with Mike and Wayne also ‘winning’ the Ligier race. Both performed to their absolute maximum. Jim and Matt were fast but obviously they had a series of events late on that put them out of contention. Rob, unfortunately, had an incident but showed really good pace in qualifying and the race.”