United Autosports have scored another double podium in both LMP2 and LMP3 at Monza as the #22 Oreca 07 of Phil Hanson, Tom Gamble and Jonathan Aberdein finished second, with Wayne Boyd, Edouard Cauhaupe and Rob Wheldon also finishing second in the #2 Ligier JS P320.
Phil Hanson started the four-hour race from the front row of the grid after a fantastic qualifying by Jonathan Aberdein the previous day. He was involved in a tense battle throughout his opening stint, passing the leading car heading into T1 before pitting for his first pit stop. At the end of Phil’s second stint, he handed the car over to Jonathan who rejoined in second. Jonathan had a good stint, before handing the car over to Tom. Tom got behind the wheel and began closing the gap to the leading car, before pitting for the final time. After rejoining the track, Tom almost immediately had to take avoiding action to avoid a spinning LMP3 car in the middle of the track. After a trip across the gravel, Tom rejoined the track but 20 seconds back from the leading car. After the FCY period that was put out to rescue a stranded LMP3 car ended, Tom was 12 seconds behind the leader. He began hunting them down, but ultimately crossed the line just five seconds back to clinch the #22’s third podium of the season.
The #2 Ligier JS P320 of Wayne Boyd, Edouard Cauhaupe and Rob Wheldon also finished second at the end of the four-hour race, with the grid running split strategies throughout the race. Rob started the race from fifth on the grid, moving through the LMP3 pack to take the lead by the end of his first stint. After his mandatory driver time was complete, Rob handed the Ligier over to Edouard who was involved in a great battle during his stint, closing the gap to the second placed car ahead. Edouard handed the #2 over to Wayne Boyd, who after all the pit stops had played out, was running in second place. Wayne closed the gap to the leader, crossing the line to take the #2 car’s second podium of the 2021 season.
The #3 Ligier JS P320 of Jim McGuire, Duncan Tappy and Andrew Bentley finished 10th after a mixed race for the trio. Andrew started the race 10th and made up two places by the end of the first lap. By the time the first pit stops came around, Andrew was running in third place, bringing the #3 AERO Ligier into the pits to hand over to Jim in P1. Jim drove a brilliant stint, before handing the Ligier over to Duncan Tappy for the last half of the race. Unfortunately, the final FCY period ruined the team’s strategy as all their competitors could serve their final mandatory pit stop under FCY conditions, when the #3 crew had already served their longer stops. Ultimately, Duncan brought the car home in 10th place.
The next race on the European Le Mans Series calendar is at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, on 17-19 September. Before that, the United Autosports team will be racing in Monza, Italy for round three of the FIA World Endurance Championship on 16-18 July.
“It looked like it was going to be a win and we had the strategy to win too. It took me quite some time to get into the lead but eventually I did and could pull a bit of a gap. Then the safety car came out and luckily we had already pitted so we thought we could get a bit of a jump on the rest of the field. It looked like a messy race for our closest competitors and it seems like they manage to get away with many mistakes, which is a shame because we don’t seem to be that lucky. On the whole though we have clawed some points back and closed the gap to the leaders, but there’s only two rounds to go so no more mistakes from here.”
“It was a good race. Again, what could have been. Our main competitors had a difficult race as well so that’s good in terms of the championship. It’s frustrating because we were leading and then I got unlucky coming across a P3 car in the middle of the track which meant I had to go through the gravel to avoid it. A lot of what ifs. Second is still a good result and I’m happy to be on the podium, but we are even more keen now for that first win. Massive thanks to the team and my sponsor, R&D Advisors for making it all happen. Hopefully next time we can get that win.”
“A lot of positives to take from the weekend I think. I think we all feel like we should have won that one but a few mistakes from us and a few things we couldn’t really control, but overall the pace of the car was good. We qualified really well in second position so there’s a lot of positives heading into Le Mans.”
“It’s always good to get back on the podium but we would like to get back on the top step with how consistently we were on the top step in 2020, but we are getting closer. The team did a great job, the strategy was good and we were just a little bit off the winning car. There’s lots of positives to take away and there’s things we can work on and take forward to the next round.”
“Our second podium in a row. It’s a great result. We had a really good strategy but ultimately DKR were more lucky than us with the last FCY but we can be happy about our race. We had a really good race and good strategy and I hope we will get the win at Spa in September.”
“It was a tough race. I really enjoyed my first stint. It was hard to pass the two cars in front but I did it and I think I did a good job getting us there. I think the strategy from the team was good and they put us in a good position throughout the race, but I think it was hard to tell where we would ultimately end up because everyone was on different strategies. We did a good job, everyone had good pace. Second place is getting closer to where we want to be but it’s still not quite there yet.”
“Another race at Monza. It’s always one of the highlights of the season. We all drove really hard and did well. We had a good strategy but unfortunately an FCY at the end ruined that possible top five finish. We will move onto Spa. Keep our heads down and keep pushing hard.”
“It was quite a long race really. Andrew had a really good start and Jim had a good stint but we were really unlucky with that last FCY. We were sitting pretty before that – everyone else owed their long stop, which we had already done so I think we could have been as high as fifth really, which would have been huge for us. But it didn’t quite fall that way for us. Another one of those weekends and we will look forward to the next one.”
“I’m really pleased with my stint. Monza is always a difficult race to start because of the inevitable cluster at the first chicane. I managed to get through there with only a little bit of damage, which caused us to lose a bit of aero downforce on the front left, which is exactly where you need it, so we struggled through all the right handers and theres only one left hander on the track so it was a fairly significant issue. Ultimately our pace was good and my stint was strong. I brought it in in P1 and Jim drove a great stint. We just got caught out by the final FCY which meant we couldn’t gain the advantage we had planned but we have done well the whole weekend. Looking ahead to Spa and Portimao.”
“Another double podium is great for the team following our Le Mans Cup win yesterday. Well done to all the team.”
“We must be pleased with a double podium. I think for both our LMP2 and LMP3 teams, we were hoping for more but we will take the two second places and points towards the championship. It has been a difficult weekend with one thing or another, but the team has done well to get though it and we will move onto WEC next an aim for another win.”