United Autosports scores second consecutive ELMS victory
Anglo-American team extends advantage in Team’s championship standings with Imola win
United Autosports has followed up last month’s magnificent European Le Mans Series debut victory by scoring a second consecutive championship win in Italy today (15 May). Opening Silverstone race winners Alex Brundle/Christian England/Mike Guasch swept their #2 Ligier JS P3 to a stunning 9.668-second victory in the 4 Hours of Imola, to increase the trio’s lead in the Drivers’ standings.
The #3 Ligier of Matt Bell/Wayne Boyd/Mark Patterson which finished second at Silverstone, came home an unfortunate seventh in Italy to extend United Autosports’ leading margin to 13-points in the Teams’ classification – a drive through penalty robbing the #3 Ligier of a likely top-three finish.
United Autosports also achieving maiden ELMS pole
The two United Autosports Ligiers lined-up first (#3) and third (#2) in the 20-car LMP3 field for the four-hour race around the historic 3.04-mile track under a blue sky and in warm sunshine. Boyd’s fine achievement, at only his second sports-prototype event and first qualifying attempt, earned the team its maiden ELMS pole-position – the team denied an all-United Autosports LMP3 front row when Brundle lost P2 in the dying moments of the session on Saturday afternoon.
Bell and Brundle completed the opening lap one-two, the positions reversed 12 minutes into the race when Bell ran wide when attempting to overtake a slow LMP2 car. Guasch took over the leading Ligier on 53 minutes with Patterson in for Bell one lap later, but Mark was forced to serve a drive-through penalty, Bell having entered the pit-lane too fast – dropping the #3 Ligier down to fifth.
The #2 Brundle/England/Guasch Ligier was up to second place before pitting at mid-distance for England while Patterson double-stinted in eighth – both United Autosports Ligiers stopping under Full Course Yellow conditions for a splash of fuel. With 90 minutes to run, the #2 and #3 Ligiers were placed second and seventh respectively, but England was through into the lead with 75 minutes remaining, moments before it started to rain.
England and Patterson pitted for wet tyres from first and sixth positions respectively on 58 minutes, again under FCY, with Mark handing over to Boyd. The Safety Car was then deployed with 26 minutes remaining, the track now treacherously wet, the conditions dictating that racing would not re-start for safety reasons. Championship leaders Brundle/England/Guasch now have 50 points with Bell/Boyd/Patterson still second now on 25 points.
There is now a two-month break before the third round of the six-race ELMS held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 17 July. Between now and then, United Autosports faces a very hectic period with an involvement in the Geneva Rally (CH) (19-21 May), Monaco Grand Prix (MC) (27-29 May) and Le Mans Classic (F) (8-10 July). Additionally, Martin Brundle and Christian England compete in the “Road To Le Mans” race preceding this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours (18 June) in the #2 Ligier JS P3. Meanwhile United Autosports Team Owner Zak Brown’s ex-Michael Schumacher/Nelson Piquet/Martin Brundle 1992 Benetton B191B was sold at Bonham’s Monaco Sale 'Les Grandes Marques' Auction, Zak’s ex-Nigel Mansell 1990 Ferrari 641 having also been sold recently.
Imola ELMS: Thiriet by TDS Racing takes win in rain-hit race
Van der Garde "open-minded" about future single-seater return