It wasn’t the day we were hoping for, with pole position (see more) quickly lost when a lap one skirmish entangled both cars. The #22 and #23 suffered damaged, resulting in nose and tail changes throughout the race that cost valuable time. On top of that, the #22 was handed a one-minute penalty for the lap one drama, which dropped the ORECA 07 to the back of the P2 pack.
For the #23, recovery was well underway when a 90-second penalty arrived in the fourth hour relating to a technical infringement. At the finish line, the #23 took P8 with the #22 just behind in P9, the latter successfully maintaining third place in the championship.
While the final race was disappointing, we have plenty to celebrate. The United Autosports team has raced in four seasons of the WEC, with 40 starts in 27 gruelling races at the forefront of full-throttle LMP2 racing. We’ve clinched eight LMP2 victories around the world - from Le Mans to Fuji, Sebring to Spa - and in 2020 we were crowned LMP2 FIA World Endurance Champions.
This weekend in Bahrain, we took pole position for the fourth time in 2023 – matching our own series record from 2019/20 as the most poles any LMP2 team has achieved in one season. And Filipe Albuquerque brought home the silverware under the floodlights, winning the Goodyear Wingfoot Award for the season.
That’s a wrap for WEC 2023 – next up, Zak Brown goes racing at luxury motorsport festival Velocity Invitational (November 10-12th). Go behind the scenes with the historics team on social @unitedautosports.
QUALI P5 | RACE P9 | CHAMP P3
Phil Hanson: “That’s the end of an era for LMP2 with United Autosports and WEC. Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to the team … it’s been an emotional journey. I’m grateful for all the ups and downs we’ve had … I’ve learnt as much in the moments of tribulation as I have in triumph. This race wasn’t the way we wanted to go out. I did feel that the penalty at the start of the race for the way I rejoined the track was very harsh. Even if I was deemed to be at fault, I don’t think a one-minute stop and go was a deserving penalty, but I also don’t believe I was fully in the wrong. That’s really what put us on the back foot. The results don’t reflect the job the team did this weekend, and ultimately, I’m proud of the effort we’ve put in this year. We’re coming away with some silverware and third in the championship … we’ve had quite a few podiums and we’ve been in the mix at every race so definitely some positives. It’s a sad note to go out on this one but you’ve got to look at the four years as a whole and what we’ve accomplished – and I’m really happy with what we’ve done.”
Frederick Lubin: “It’s difficult to look at positives currently but there are a lot to take away from this year. This has been my rookie season and I think I’ve proven that I’m capable. A lot of that is down to being with the right team and teammates. I honestly couldn’t have wished for a better crew, engineer and co-drivers. I’ve really enjoyed it … but it has been tough! And even though it’s not what we deserve, it’s nice to finish top-three in the championship. Now, I look very much to the future … I hope I get an opportunity like this again.”
Filipe Albuquerque: “I think this sums up our season. Great pace, a United Autosports car on pole, then there was a rumble in the first corner. That threw us back, then a one-minute penalty put us last. We managed to recover a bit but not enough in such a competitive grid to come back to the top. It is what it is, the pace was there … I won the Goodyear Wingfoot Award which shows we were consistently fast, but there are no champions without luck, and we didn’t get it this time. We need to raise our heads though because we still finished third in the championship.”
QUALI P1 | RACE P8 | CHAMP P5
Tom Blomqvist: “The start … that’s where it all began to go wrong. There was a mess ahead of us in the Hypercar class, so we ended up in a bit of trouble and dropped to the back. We were playing catch up all race, then we had a technical infringement that sealed our fate. Things haven’t gone our way this year. Sometimes that happens in motorsport, and you’ve got to move on. The team gave us a good car, getting the pole yesterday was the highlight. Sorry to Olly and Josh that we couldn’t fight for the podium, and all the guys in the pits who worked so hard. It’s a huge team support, so it’s sad to not get a result when everyone puts in so many hours of hard work.”
Josh Pierson: “This is bittersweet. It’s the end of a chapter for LMP2 in WEC and for me with United Autosports. I’ve spent two years with these guys now … they’re more like family to me so it’s really sad to not be returning for another year. But that’s how motorsport is, it’s how this industry goes. I’m super grateful to United Autosports for everything we’ve accomplished … I’ve honestly enjoyed every race, even the bad ones. There’s never a dull moment with this team and I look back on fond memories … my debut win at Sebring last year, a podium to end that season in Bahrain. This year, I feel like we’ve been plagued with bad luck and we’ve made some mistakes. That’s the reality in endurance racing and in the WEC … it’s so brutal. Our championship would have looked a lot different if Sebring hadn’t happened [read more] but that’s life. We’ll all be back at the race track ready for another day!”
Oliver Jarvis: “We had a great start to the weekend with pole. Heading into the race, we had high expectations as we had a very quick car in testing. Unfortunately, things went wrong for us on the first lap. From there, we did everything we could to get back … and we managed to lead the race. But a penalty ended any chance of winning in the end, and we came home in eighth place. It’s a sad way to end the championship but I want to say a huge thanks to the team for all their hard work. It’s been a tough year with some great highs but it’s been really enjoyable. It’s been great to work with Josh [Pierson] and see his progression, and to team up with Tom [Blomqvist] again. We were hoping to go out by winning the last LMP2 race in the WEC … it didn’t quite happen, but we can be proud of what we’ve achieved this year.”
Richard Dean: “It’s been incredible to be a part of the last few years of LMP2 in the WEC, especially with the success we’ve enjoyed and the competition with the other teams which has raised the level every season. To have the moments that we’ve had … to win the World Endurance Championship and the big races like Le Mans … it’s what we set out to do. We’ve started on pole at 11 of 27 races, celebrated 8 victories, 16 podiums and started on the front row 18 times. The result last night doesn’t represent those achievements - it's not a fitting end to this weekend, this year or the past four seasons. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved in our WEC LMP2 career.”