Dominant United LMP2 squad going into Le Mans "blind"

Jamie Klein
·2-min read

The squad co-founded by Zak Brown is unbeaten in LMP2 competition in 2020, having won all three European Le Mans Series races of the season so far and the last three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, stretching back to last November's Bahrain race.

However, this weekend will mark the first time United is going into Le Mans using the benchmark Oreca 07 chassis, having only made the switch from its previous Ligier JS P217 at the start of the 2019/20 WEC season.

#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta

#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta<span class="copyright">Erik Junius</span>
#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di RestaErik Junius

Erik Junius

Hanson feels that the higher-than-usual number of GTE Am runners and bronze-graded drivers racing at Le Mans in the LMP2 class this year also creates more opportunities to slip up, particularly with the move to September meaning more night-time running.

"This year you see some [LMP2] entries with bronze drivers, and you're going to come up behind these guys quite often throughout the race," he told Motorsport.com. "And then with the GTE Ams as well, any mistake they make can impact your race.

"Then you have to consider that the GTE Ams could struggle more because their gentleman driver has to do an extra stint at night. All these things can play a factor."

United drivers wary of Goodyear threat

Both Albuquerque and Hanson believe that tyres could also be an important deciding factor in the race, with Michelin and Goodyear both having exhibited different strengths and weaknesses throughout the ELMS and WEC campaigns so far.

United's two Orecas are among the 19 cars running Michelin rubber, while five cars are on Goodyears, including the Jackie Chan DC Racing car that lies second in the WEC points.

#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07: Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry, Will Stevens

#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07: Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry, Will Stevens <span class="copyright">JEP / Motorsport Images</span>
#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07: Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry, Will Stevens JEP / Motorsport Images

JEP / Motorsport Images

"Goodyear did a really good job this year bringing a new tyre," said Albuquerque. "They are still not showing their potential and I think they can be strong at Le Mans.

"I think the most crucial one is the intermediate. We cannot use the new intermediate Michelin, so if we are in that window, Goodyear will be very strong."

Hanson added: "Goodyear operates best on its softest tyre, and because it's in September, if it's going to be cooler, especially at night, we could see Goodyear being the stronger tyre.

"Over the season Michelin has been the stronger tyre because it has a big operating window, but if the conditions suit the Goodyear, it could be the stronger tyre."