United Taking ‘Nothing for Granted’ Despite Winning Streak
Phil Hanson says United Autosports remains realistic ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans despite the success the team has had in the lead-up.
The British LMP2 outfit has won the last three FIA World Endurance Championship races as well as the opening three European Le Mans Series races of the season.
Hanson, however, says Le Mans is a different beast entirely and the circumstances around this year’s event present an even greater challenge.
“I think Le Mans particularly I don’t ever take anything for granted when coming in with confidence,” Hanson told Sportscar365.
“It’s always such a high chance so many things can go wrong out of your control and with there being so many elements to Le Mans this year, increased darkness, more GTE-Ams, there’s so many things that can go wrong out of the team’s or my control.
“Even though I think the team is operating to the best of their ability and all the drivers are doing their job perfectly at the moment there’s so much that could go wrong and other teams could be quick.”
This year’s event will also be the squad’s first time at Circuit de la Sarthe with the Oreca 07 Gibson, having run the Ligier JS P217 Gibson in the past.
“With the lack of testing and lack of preparation for this year’s Le Mans, there’s no test day, there’s less testing in general so there’s a bigger window for things to go wrong,” Hanson commented.
“Although we might seem a bit confident going in because of our recent success in the recent races in ELMS and WEC, all this other stress behind what COVID-19 forced us to adapt to means I’m if anything more anxious than ever.”
Given the team’s lack of experience at the circuit with the Oreca, Hanson says they are going over all their data from Spa-Francorchamps to “find whatever you can from it” to help at Le Mans.
“It affects things massively. Le Mans is a track where experience is the most rewarding,” he added.
“We’ve got no real experience with this car around Le Mans and normally we’d have some test days to have some laps in the car at the track but all we have is ORECA recommendations of where they think we should be.”
United leads the WEC LMP2 class standings by 22 points, with Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque on 120 points and co-driver Paul Di Resta 15 points behind due to missing the second round of the 2019-20 season at Fuji due to his DTM commitments.
As has been the case in the ELMS, the team will be joined by its sister Oreca driven by Alex Brundle, Will Owen and Job van Uitert, which won the ELMS season-opener at Paul Ricard in July.
Teams Set for High-Intensity Schedule
The absence of the pre-event test due to the circumstances around COVID-19 has resulted in a condensed race weekend schedule.
It sees the event span over four days, with almost nine hours of running on Thursday including qualifying followed by a further practice session and hyperpole on Friday before the warm-up and race start on Saturday.
“Even the fact that there’s no real day off,” said Hanson. “Normally we have the drivers parade on Friday and the mechanics would get half a day to a day’s rest before a 24-hour race.
“Now it seems they’re going from eight hours of testing one day, to qualifying and an hour and a half testing the next day into a 24-hour race.
“They’re kind of doing 48 hours on the trot a 48 hour weekend which is going to take its toll on a lot of teams.
“I’ve got absolute confidence in United’s boys that we’re going to be able to cope with the extra fatigue. They’ve got top staff there but it adds that variable I’m talking about which you don’t want.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report