UNITED AUTOSPORTS SEAL 2020 EUROPEAN LE MANS SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP WITH FIRST EVER ELMS LMP2 1-2 FINISH
- Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque win Monza race to clinch ELMS championship
- Alex Brundle, Will Owen and Job van Uitert finish second in #32 Oreca
- Third place for LMP3 championship leaders Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon
- Unlucky race for Jim McGuire, Andrew Bentley and Duncan Tappy
United Autosports have won the 2020 European Le Mans Series Championship by winning the 4 Hours of Monza today.
The #22 crew of Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque won from pole position after a hectic start to the race. This win marks their third ELMS win of 2020 and the team’s fourth win out of four races beating the previously held record of three wins. It also marks Phil and Filipe’s 10thwin as a pairing.
The #32 Oreca 07 of Alex Brundle, Will Owen and Job van Uitert finished second, by only 3.057 seconds to the sister car, marking United’s first ever ELMS LMP2 1-2 finish.
The #2 Ligier JS P320 of Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon finished third after getting caught out by safety car periods that benefited their closes rivals.
The #3 crew of Jim McGuire, Andrew Bentley and Duncan Tappy finished P11 after contact earlier in the race resulted in them being handed a 10 second stop and go penalty.
It has been an incredible few weeks for United Autosports after winning the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship last month and then winning the ELMS championship today, a feat that has never been achieved by any other team in the same year,
They now move onto the final round of the season at Portimao in Portugal, where they hope to seal second in the LMP2 championship as well as taking the LMP3 title.
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“I’m so incredibly proud of the team today, to not only clinch the championship in LMP2 but to do it in style with a 1-2 finish. It couldn’t have been closer between our two cars. The LMP3 team had a difficult race, but I’m sure they will come back fighting at Portimao.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“It was unfortunate that an incident and a stop go penalty put the #3 car out of contention. The pace of both LMP3 cars has been strong all weekend, backed up by Wayne’s pole – his fourth of 2020 and third in ELMS – not that we are surprised at his pace. The #2 car definitely had the pace to win, but we just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and safety cars just didn’t fall our way. It was such a close finish at the end too. We still retain the lead of the LMP3 championship, albeit by a smaller margin, so it’s quite a simple objective for them in Portimao, they need to win.
Then with LMP2, it’s such a cliché to say it hasn’t sunk in yet but it really hasn’t. It’s quite incredible. The run of pole positions and wins. European champions to add to being World Champions as well as Le Mans winners all in the same year. I can see why it’s never been done before. How I feel now is way beyond, not what we hoped for, but you need so much to go for you in a season to achieve what we have and so much to go your way. It was a great comeback from the team on the pit wall and in the garage. The pit stops were faultless. A 1-2 at the end could have easily been either way round. I’m super proud of all the team and what Phil and Filipe have achieved this year.”
Phil Hanson lined up on pole position for the fourth time this season in the #22, while Will lined up in fifth in the #32. It had rained overnight, meaning race control declared the track wet and the team had to decide which tyres to go on. Both our cars went on intermediate tyres.
After a hectic start, Phil was forced to take avoiding action, driving over the curb and into the gravel, but continued, albeit at the back of the pack. Will made a great start, moving up two spots to fourth until the safety car was called out to rescue the beached G-Drive car at the first chicane.
As the track began to dry both Phil and Will were struggling on the intermediate tyres, so with just 19 minutes gone, Phil pitted to change to slicks and to change the rear tail after damage caused at the first corner. A lap later, Will pitted the #32 for slicks and fuel and headed back out again.
Phil quickly got back into his stride setting fastest lap after fastest lap as he began making his way back through the pack. As pit stops began to cycle through, Will and Phil were leading the pack.
With two hours and 30 minutes remaining, Phil pitted the #22 from second to hand the car over to Filipe Albuquerque, while Will pitted the #32 and handed the car over to Job van Uitert, both drivers returning to the track under FCY conditions.
With just over an hour remaining, Filipe pitted and handed the #22 back to Phil Hanson, who brought the car home to take their third ELMS win of 2020 and their 10thas a pairing. A lap later, Job pitted the #32 from P2 and handed the car over to Alex Brundle, who battled back to close the gap to the #22 to just 3.057 seconds at the line.
The #22 crew now lead the championship by an unbeatable 37 points, while the #32 crew lie second, 20 points ahead of third place going into the final round at Portimao on 1 November.
Rob lined the #2 Ligier JS P320 up on pole position once again, on wet tyres, with Jim starting the #3 Ligier from fifth, also on wets.
A good start from Rob, who managed to drive around the carnage ahead of him, meant he maintained the lead, while Jim unfortunately dropped back to eighth. After the first safety car period ended and racing resumed, Rob maintained his lead and began to pull away. After 26 minutes, Jim pitted the #3 for slick tyres, while Rob pitted after 32 minutes to also change to slick tyres.
Just as the race reached the one hour mark, Jim had a coming together with a GT car, which beached the #3 in the gravel. He was pulled out and successfully brought the car back to the pits for the team to check it over and install Andrew behind the wheel. Unfortunately the #3 car then picked up a 10-second stop and go penalty for contact with the GT car. Andrew pitted the car, served the penalty and made his way back out on track again.
With one hour and 26 minute gone, Rob pitted the #2 from second for fuel and a change of drinks bottle, but stayed on board. At the two hour mark, Andrew brought the #3 into the pits to hand over to Duncan Tappy.
After a fantastic two hours and 14 minutes, Rob pitted the #2 and handed the car over to Tom Gamble. New tyres and a full tank of fuel and Tom made his way back out on track, until he stopped at the 50 minute mark to hand the #2 car over to Wayne Boyd.
Wayne crossed the line in third in the #2 Ligier by just 0.062 seconds to second place. The #3 finished 11th.
The #2 Ligier remains in the lead of the championship, just 10 points ahead of second place. The #3 crew now lie seventh in the championship.
Phil Hanson, driver #22, United Autosports:
“I’m really happy with this result. It’s great to seal the championship before the final round because it takes some pressure off the team and the drivers and I feel like we can really attack at Portimao now, which I’m really looking forward to. This race is just a huge compliment to the team. I made a mistake at the start and the team recovered it, great strategy, great pit stops and the pace in the car was fantastic. We were nearly last at one point so to recover to win was great. It was a nice race though because we were constantly pushing. It was a shame not to have all the competition in there, with G-Drive having issues early on. We had a good battle with the sister car too. I’m just really happy to win the championship, it’s a great way to finish off what has been a strange year. Filipe says I’m not going to fully appreciate the magnitude of what we have achieved because I’ve not been in the sport that long to understand how rare it is, but it does feel incredible.”
Filipe Albuquerque, driver #22, United Autosports:
“What a dream. It’s a perfect ending. The #32 was very quick again and because of them we had to push the whole race. It was a bit chaotic at the start, but we take the decisions as we make them and that’s just the way it goes. The team did a brilliant job and we won. For Phil, I think it’s good. But for me, I’ve been around a long time and I have missed out on this championship so many times so to do everything in the same year is incredible. We are enjoying everything and we like so much what we are doing. Richard should be proud of what he has. Not just what he achieved, but what he has. The group of people because in the end it is man that makes the difference.”
Alex Brundle, driver #32, United Autosports:
“Firstly its an amazing result for the team. It rewards what we and the #22 car have been working on all year. I was pushing extremely hard at the end to try and close the gap to Phil who was driving incredibly. I think the main thing that cost us the race was back markers who ignore blue flags. Especially annoying when they are driving for teams that have been in this series for a long time and should now how it works by now. The #22 car deserves this.”
Will Owen, driver #32, United Autosports:
“Second is a great result. It’s a great day for the team – the #22 was quicker than us but we pushed hard and always want more. Overall it’s a good feeling. The start was eventful but I think we made the right calls. Thanks to the team for a great car. I’m looking forward to Portimao now.”
Job van Uitert, driver #32, United Autosports:
“In general I’m really happy for United as a team for their first 1-2 in LMP2. It’s a really good result. I’m happy with the part I played, it was nearly the maximum and it was tough to fight with Filipe as we were in the cars at the same time. But overall it’s a really good result for the team and of course I’m happy for the #22 car that they clinched the title but on the other hand you’re always a bit sad that you didn’t do it yourself. But our time will come. It’s been really good for them this year.”
Wayne Boyd, driver #2, United Autosports:
“It’s hard to be disappointed with a podium but we had the pace today to win it but everything just went against us with safety cars and FCYs, no one to blame, we were just unlucky. It was a mega job by the whole team as always, I don’t think we could have done anymore. We still lead the championship by 10 points going into the final round and I’m confident we can get the job done there. Congratulations to United on their LMP2 championship – mega job!”
Tom Gamble, driver #2, United Autosports:
“Things didn’t really go our way today with the way the strategy played out, everyone else seemed to benefit from the safety cars and full course yellows, but sometimes that’s the way it is unfortunately. All three of us did a great job and the car was phenomenal. It’s disappointing because we really had the pace to win today but we will go to Portimao with one goal and hopefully we can wrap up the championship there.”
Rob Wheldon, driver #2, United Autosports:
“We should have won that. It’s frustrating because we had the fastest car and the best driver line up but unfortunately we were unlucky with the safety car. We are still leading the championship, but the gap to second has just got a bit smaller which makes it a bit more nerve wracking, especially when we should have really clinched it here, but onwards to the next one.”
Jim McGuire, driver #3, United Autosports:
“Today was a challenging day. I started off the race pretty well on wets and managed to avoid the mayhem at the start. I stopped for slicks and had really good pace on them and things were looking good and I was really pleased with the car. Then I got into something with a Ferrari and I ended up in the gravel and we got a stop-go penalty which put us a few laps down and we just couldn’t recover. The important thing is we all showed good pace so onto Portimao.”
Duncan Tappy, driver #3, United Autosports:
“We had a bit of an incident with Jim and a Ferrari so we had a bit of damage which we had to drive around but I don’t think it actually affected the pace too much. The car has been great all weekend. I have to say the car has been really strong and has been a pleasure to drive. I really thought we were going to get a result here this weekend.”
Andrew Bentley, driver #3, United Autosports:
“We were a bit unlucky really. Jim had a good start, his task was to get thought his first stint which he did a good job of. We started on wets but when Jim moved onto slicks he was matching the pace of the rest of the field which was really promising. Then he handed me the car which had a bit of damage on after his coming together with a GT car and the first lap for me was mainly being cautious to make sure nothing fell off the car. Then it was just about being as consistent as possible. I had a fairly clean run with no issues and I handed the car over to Duncan to finish the race. But onwards to the next race at Portimao, which I’m really looking forward to.”