Despite the tricky conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, which ultimately forced the organisers to call a halt to proceedings, Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque secured the first LMP2 win of the European Le Mans Series season for United Autosports.
Hanson took the opening phase of the Four Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in the #22 Ligier, and the British racer admitted that conditions were tricky to contend with, with visibility ‘awful’, but he was able to survive until the first pit stop window just before the hour mark where he handed over to Albuquerque, who was able to take the car to the front of the field.
When conditions became too bad the race was red flagged and the result declared after just over two hours of racing, but despite half points being awarded, Hanson was pleased to finally take that first breakthrough LMP2 victory with the team.
“It’s fantastic to finally get an LMP2 win after some disappointments this season,” said Hanson. “Our qually performance showed that we also now have very good dry weather pace.
“The opening laps were tricky but the conditions were the same for everyone. It was a case of judging the grip levels around the track which were changing with every lap as the rainfall varied.
“Visibility was awful when we were racing. A great strategy from the pit-wall got Filipe in the car and got us track position.”
Albuquerque says the result in Belgium is just reward for the hard work United Autosports has put in during the 2018 season, and even though he felt the conditions around Spa-Francorchamps at times were dangerous, he was happy to close out the day with the victory.
“I’m so happy,” said Albuquerque. “We’ve fought so hard all season with no reward. Today was chaotic racing and often dangerous but I was determined to get this win for United.
“Eau Rouge was especially difficult when it was really wet. My pace in the wet was also good and I was just focussing on getting a big lead before handing the car back to Phil but of course that did not happen with the race being stopped which was completely the correct call from the race director.”
Like Hanson, Albuquerque was pleased with the pace of the Ligier in Qualifying conditions on Saturday, and it was a close-run thing between the #22 and the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca that took pole position in the hands of Jean-Eric Vergne.
“The Ligier was very, very good in qualifying – just brilliant in the middle section – and I was very happy to set a time so close to the championship leader who only beat me to pole in the closing seconds of the session,” said the Portuguese racer.