The stakes were high in Bahrain today, with eight hours of racing between the #23 car and a potential championship win. And while the world title didn’t come home, the Anglo-American trio of Alex Lynn, Olly Jarvis and Josh Pierson did wrap up the season with a podium celebration under the floodlights.
At 14:00 local time, the flag dropped and – in baking heat – racing began at the Bahrain International Circuit. The #22 car of Phil Hanson, Will Owen and Filipe Albuquerque – who qualified P3 – stormed into the lead of the LMP2 class with 2020 world champion Filipe behind the wheel. Close behind, the #23 car quickly gained two positions under the control of Alex Lynn.
With 90 minutes gone, United were dominating LMP2 with the #22 car leading and #23 following in second. A 10-second penalty for track limits and balance issues slowed progress for the #22 car, while both cars lost time with unlucky pre-FCY pit stops – but with hours of racing still on the clock, it was all to play for.
Over the next few hours, under dark desert skies, both United cars maintained top four positions. Come 21:00, with one hour left on the clock, Olly Jarvis was back in the #23 car riding in P2, while Will Owen was worked hard to defend P4 in the #22.
At the checkered flag, Alex Lynn secured P2 for the #23 car and third place in the overall championship, missing out on second by just three points. Meanwhile, contact for the #22 car in the final stages reduced a likely P4 to P6 and seventh in the championship.
A bittersweet day but, with a podium finish, some of the fastest pit stops, and a top three championship finish for record-breaking teenager Josh Pierson, we leave Bahrain with big plans for 2023.
#23 Alex Lynn (GB) / Oliver Jarvis (GB) / Josh Pierson (US)
Qualified (LMP2): 6th (AL). Race (LMP2): 2nd
Alex: “I think this race was a good one, we had a good day. Credit to my two teammates – Olly in particular was phenomenal. He deserved that result. I’ve had an amazing season with United – going onto new adventures next year but I’ve had a great time. It’s one I’ll never forget.”
Oliver: “In one regard I’m delighted we finished on the podium and at the same time a bit gutted – I thought we might be able to fight for the win today. It was nice to finish the way we started, but a shame we lost second in the championship – we fought hard all year. We had a few unfortunate incidents that cost us points but it’s been a great year, an absolute pleasure to drive for United and amazing to watch Josh progress. He’s done a really good job and I think he’ll come back even stronger next season. Such a shame to lose Alex, he’s been a great team mate but I know Tom [Blomqvist] well – now we look forward to 2023.”
Josh: “It’s been a very eventful year and it’s gone by so fast! Great to start the year in Sebring with a win, but we’ve been plagued with unfortunate scenarios which set us back when it came to scoring more podiums and wins. We definitely had a crew that was capable of it – we’ve had really fast pit stops today and good driver changes too. It was nice to end the season with a podium even if it wasn’t on the top step – a nice segway into next year.”
#22 Phil Hanson (GB) / Filipe Albuquerque (PT) / Will Owen (US)
Qualified (LMP2): 3rd (FA). Race (LMP2): P6
Phil: “I think this race sums up our season – a strong start, but a disappointing end. We looked like we had very strong pace in early parts of the race but in the middle phase we struggled with balance issues and lost more than we could ever gain back. We made some small adjustments where we could throughout the race and seemed to be a bit stronger at the end, but by then the damage had been done. The team did a great job trying to keep us there – it’s a tight field and you can ‘t afford to lose any time. Congratulations to the 23 car on finishing third in the championship.”
Filipe: “At the end of the day, when we do six races and don’t finish on the podium, it’s not just bad luck – there is something we are missing. I had a good first couple of stints, took off and created a gap which made me happy – seeing everyone get very small in the mirrors. But we lacked some pace at the end of the race and when I got back in the car the others were already too far ahead to do anything. I think I’m just happy this season is over – onto 2023.”
Will: “We just wrapped up the 8 Hours of Bahrain and the 2022 WEC season. It was a difficult race for us – we thought we had a lot of promise with our pace in practice and quali, and we did at the beginning but it turned out not to be throughout the race. We didn’t have what we needed to be on the podium, but we fought hard. It’s not been our year and I’m sad we couldn’t pull out a podium at the end to wrap it up. But it’s been a pleasure to race with United– I’ve enjoyed it a lot, learned a tonne and all these challenges are making me better.”
Zak Brown: “Awesome to be out here in Bahrain with the United Autosports team for the final of the 2022 World Endurance Championship. Tough race out there but the #23 did an incredible job to come home second in the race and finish in the top three of the championship. A difficult season for #22 but they remained resilient throughout and I know they’re ready to come back fighting next year.”
Richard Dean: “It’s nice to finish on the podium – at one point, it was looking really strong when we were first and second for a long period. It fell apart a bit for the #22 car in the middle of the race but it was a strong performance. We haven‘t always been super strong here at Bahrain but the team did a good job to get us in contention – and to finish third in the championship with Josh, Olly and Alex … I think we’d have taken that at the start of the season with the youngest driver ever! We’re lucky we’re keeping him for next year because he’s going to keep getting stronger, and we’ve got a great line-up. Looking forward to it.”
Source. United Autosports