United Autosports finished third at the end of the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Portimao, Portugal as Phil Hanson, Paul Di Resta and Wayne Boyd scored the team’s second podium of the WEC season so far.
Paul Di Resta, who was making his first race start for seven months as a stand in for absent Filipe Albuquerque, qualified the #22 Oreca 07 fourth on the grid for the start of the eight-hour race, held at the Autodromo International Algarve. Phil Hanson took the start and avoided the scramble at the first corner holding his position. He moved up to third before pitting to hand the car over to Wayne Boyd, who was making his FIA WEC debut.
Wayne was running in the lead of the race during his opening stints; the team having moved to the front of the LMP2 pack during the pit stops. Wayne drove a brilliant double stint, handing the car over to Paul Di Resta before cycling through the drivers once more.
An unfortunate safety car diminished the leading gap United Autosports had built up to the second placed car, with Wayne holding off Stoffel Vandoorne on the restart. Shortly after racing resumed, Wayne pitted to hand the car over to Phil once again who re-joined in second.
Towards the end of the race, the #22 began to struggle with a fuel issue, meaning they couldn’t go as far on fuel as their nearest competitors. Luckily, a late FCY meant they could pit for a splash of fuel, with Paul in the car, and head back out for the final 20 minutes, bringing the car home in third place, marking the team’s 200th podium.
The team lie second in the FIA World Endurance Championship with 49 points, seven points off the leaders. The next round of the FIA WEC will be held in Monza, Italy on 16-18 July. The next event for United Autosports is the GT4 European Series at Zandvoort 18-20 June.
“It’s a bit disappointing to have finished third when we were leading so strongly. The safety car ruined our race really. Our strategy was based on being out front and pushing on. When the safety car came out, we were compromised with not being able to go to the end without a splash and we were struggling with a slight issue.
Essentially, we lost our advantage there. We had to come back through a lot of traffic too, which others managed to avoid. Luckily, we ended up third and sometimes it goes that way. It’s a shame when we were going well early on. There were things to learn, which we will take forward. Second in the championship isn’t a bad place to be, heading into the final four rounds.”
Paul Di Resta:
“I think it’s been a tough weekend for the team. I had to get myself back into it and then with what happened to Fabio and having to bring Wayne on board last minute. When you look at the weekend as a whole, a podium isn’t bad.
We had our issues in the race, but I don’t think we got the car tuned in either, with myself and Wayne having limited mileage. Lots to take from it, but to get a podium and vital points for the championship is important. Pretty satisfied I’m up to speed ahead of Le Mans, which is a big thing for myself.”
“It’s been an interesting weekend for me personally, getting the call Thursday morning and having to get everything organised so quickly to get out to Portugal. I missed FP1 as my negative test result came back literally as they were about to go out on track, and we had to do seat fittings etc. I did FP2 and FP3, so I got a few laps in before the race.
I felt incredibly nervous this morning. No pressure from the team, but just from myself to make sure I did a good job for everybody. I was happy with what I did. I went steady the first few stints; my pace was better in the second stint and I managed to hold off Vandoorne when the safety car came in. We would obviously have liked the win, but we didn’t quite have it.
For me, to get on the podium in my first World Endurance round is pretty good. Thank you to the team for the opportunity and speedy recovery to Fabio.”
“A good recovery for the team after the news regarding Fabio on Thursday. Of course, we are always disappointed with anything less than a win, but we must take the points and move onto Monza. Well done to Wayne for stepping in last minute.”
“It’s been quite the week for us. So, when you look at that, to come away with a podium isn’t bad. On Thursday it was looking a bit bleak. To get Wayne over here for his first WEC race and having him miss FP1, which would probably have settled him a bit more. But I think he did a fantastic job. A really, really strong job. A lot of pressure and he didn’t let us down at all.
JOTA were fast. We had an issue on our fuel fill quantity, which required a splash at the end, which we will have to investigate back at base. Luckily, we had the advantage over WRT so third was comfortable for us, but the issue lost us the chance to compete.
When you take into account the issues we’ve had, we haven’t done a bad job. Wayne was thrown in at the deep end and Paul hasn’t been in a car since Bahrain. He stepped straight in, but all things considered to come away with a third place, which got United our 200th podium, isn’t a bad result.”