Montoya in frame for United Autosports Le Mans seat

Juan Pablo Montoya has entered the frame for a Le Mans 24 Hours drive with the United Autosports LMP2 team – but team principal Richard Dean insists that no deal has yet been signed with the Colombian.

Montoya in frame for United Autosports Le Mans seat
#32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson: Will Owen, Hugo De Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves
#6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, P: Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, pit stop
#32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson: Will Owen, Hugo De Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Latin America
#32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, P: Paul di Resta
#32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, P: Phil Hanson, Paul di Resta
#32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, P: Phil Hanson, Alex Brundle, Paul di Resta

United has two vacant seats in its pair of Ligier JS P217s, with European Le Mans Series regulars Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson, Hugo de Sadeleer and Will Owen already confirmed.

Dean says that conversations with Montoya, who previously tested a Porsche LMP1 car and is now a full-time member of Team Penske's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship roster, are ongoing.

“Yes we’re talking to him, and who wouldn’t want him?” he told Motorsport.com. “I’m a big Montoya fan, and I watched him at Daytona [in the Rolex 24] when we were there. He was awesome through traffic, and he’s not lost any of his hunger and aggression.

“If someone like Roger Penske has him in his team then it’s as big an endorsement as you can get. At Sebring he was mega.

"I’d love it to happen, but the honest truth is it’s not done. I know he wants to do it, I have spoken to him, but we haven’t done a deal. Maybe he’s got some other choices he’s considering, I don’t know.”

Dean acknowledged that Montoya’s presence would be a huge marketing boost for the team.

He added: “Having Fernando [Alonso] in our car at Daytona, we had some work to do once we agreed to that, but if you have somebody of that quality and that ability you don’t have to do any selling, do you? And Montoya for me is probably the same.”

Di Resta closing on drive

Ex-Formula 1 driver Paul di Resta, who drove for United at both Daytona and Sebring, is understood to be close to being confirmed for one of the two remaining Le Mans seats.

“Paul did an amazing job at Sebring, a real, real quality job,” said Dean. “I’m not saying he didn’t do a good job at Daytona, but something at Sebring made him look like an absolute seasoned sportscar driver.

"He’s my number one choice for one of these cars. From what we’ve seen working with him for two weekends, he’s got better and better, and I think he’s really enjoying it.”

Dean admitted he would like to have McLaren F1 reserve Lando Norris, who also drove for the team at Daytona, at Le Mans, but the teenager looks set to focus on his F2 commitments.

“I’d love to have him in the car," said Dean. "But Lando’s got other targets at this point in his career, and Le Mans isn’t a priority for him. He’ll have lots of opportunities and lots of time in the future.”

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