European Le Mans Series

United Autosports Reign supreme in Paul Ricard

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#32 Oreca 07 - Gibson / UNITED AUTOSPORTS / William Owen / Alex Brundle / Job Van Uitert

United Autosports claimed a double pole position in qualifying and went on to take wins in both LMP2 and LMP3 in the opening race of the 2020 European Le Mans series. In GTE the #77 Proton Competition Porsche took the top step whilst early competitors fell away with troubles.

The #32 United Autosports Oreca with Jop van Uitert, Alex Brundle and Will Owen took the chequered flag as they benefited from the sister #22 car suffering a last-stint puncture which in turn dropped them down the field. Nyck De Vries in the #26 G-Drive Aurus took the lead as the #22 United Autosports Oreca pitted for the puncture but this was to be short lived as he himself still had to make a short splash and dash pitstop. 20 minutes remaining and the #26 makes it’s final stop which in turn promoted the #32 United Autosports into the lead and where it would stay.

Whilst Van Uitert was out in front, the #26 G-Drive with De Vries returned to the track in third position behind the #39 Graff Racing Oreca but still ahead of the delayed #22 United Autosports Oreca. The order would remain unchanged as they cross the line but would later change in a post race penalty for the #39 Graff Racing Oreca due to a driver time infraction, Alexandre Cougnard was required by driver rating to complete 1 hour and 10 minutes of drive time but only clocked 1 hour 3 minute and 54 seconds.

#39 Oreca 07 – Gibson / GRAFF / James Allen / Thomas Laurent / Alexandre Cougnaud

The #39 Graff had 3 laps added to it’s race time which dropped them down into ninth position overall. This promoted both the #26 G-Drive Aurus into second position and the delayed #22 United Autosports moved onto the final step of the podium.

In LMP3 it was another success story for United Autosports who took the win in the class. The #2 Ligier with Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon led the LMP3 pack away from the drop of the green flag. Throughout the race the #2 United Autosports Ligier battled with the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier, always along side each other they passed through the pit stop cycles but this was crucial the race moved inside the final 30 minutes.

As the final cycle of stops ran through the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier with Nigel Moore onboard came out ahead of the #2 Ligier of United Autosports. Wayne Boyd onboard the #2 wasn’t settling for a second position and made a fantastic move to steal the lead away as the clock just ticked past the 20 minutes remaining mark.

The Duqueine Chassis struggled at the Paul Ricard circuit for the season opener as Ligier locked out the top seven positions in the LMP3 class.

#77 Porsche 911 RSR / DEMPSEY – PROTON RACING / Christian Ried / Michele Beretta / Alessio Picariello

In the GTE class, Proton Competion #77 stayed out of trouble, and their consistent pace saw them rise up and take the race win.

Early on in the race competitors suffered issues and accidents and even penalties. The #98 Aston Martin incurred an early penalty after contacting with the back of an LMP3, dropping them down the order and struggling to fight back.

Duncan Cameron in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari had contact with the #30 Duqueine LMP2, which ended with the Ferrari in the barrier and being retired.

The #93 Proton Competition Porsche had an early incident too, an ambitious move by the RealTeam Racing LMP3 saw them lap Michael Fassbender in the #93 heading into turn 1 but moved across him to brake, leaving Fassbender with no where to go, he braked hard and put the car into a spin to avoid the accident but unfortunately ended up in the barrier. Fassbender made it back to the pit’s but the car was dropped out of contention and was 6 laps down when they returned to the circuit.

Meanwhile the #77 had been staying calm and creeping up the pack to second position and closed the gap to the leading #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari. Alessio Picariello onboard the #77 got into the slipstream of the leading #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari and pulled off a great pass into Signes corner. The car would pull away and lead all the way to the flag.

#74 Kessel Racing would go on to take the second step of the podium ahead of another Ferrari from the #83 Iron Lynx Ferrari , a great podium for Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Manuela Gostner.

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