UNITED Autosports finished third at the end of the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Portimao, Portugal last weekend as Phil Hanson, Paul Di Resta and Templepatrick’s Wayne Boyd scored the team’s second podium of the WEC season so far.
The weekend got off to a difficult start, however, with the news that Fabio Scherer tested positive for COVID 19, leading to the team having to find a suitable replacement.
Less than 24 hours later, Wayne Boyd was in Portugal awaiting his negative COVID test result, which came too late for him to take part in FP1.
Paul Di Resta, who was making his first race start for seven months as a stand in for absent Filipe Albuquerque, qualified the #22 Oreca 07 fourth on the grid for the start of the eight-hour race, held at the Autodromo International Algarve.
Phil Hanson took the start and avoided the scramble at the first corner holding his position. He moved up to third before pitting to hand the car over to Wayne Boyd, who was making his FIA WEC debut. No pressure then!
Wayne was running in the lead of the race during his opening stints; the team having moved to the front of the LMP2 pack during the pit stops.
The local man drove a brilliant double stint, handing the car over to Paul Di Resta before cycling through the drivers once more.
An unfortunate safety car diminished the leading gap United Autosports had built up to the second placed car, with Wayne holding off Stoffel Vandoorne on the restart.
Shortly after racing resumed, Wayne pitted to hand the car over to Phil once again who re-joined in second.
Towards the end of the race, the #22 began to struggle with a fuel issue, meaning they couldn’t go as far on fuel as their nearest competitors.
Luckily, a late FCY meant they could pit for a splash of fuel, with Paul in the car, and head back out for the final 20 minutes, bringing the car home in third place, marking the team’s 200th podium.
The team now lie second in the FIA World Endurance Championship with 49 points, seven points off the leaders.
The next round of the FIA WEC will be held in Monza, Italy in July. The next event for United Autosports is the GT4 European Series at Zandvoort next weekend.
Speaking afterwards, Wayne was philosophical about a dramatic day in the driving seat.
“It’s been an interesting weekend for me personally, getting the call Thursday morning and having to get everything organised so quickly to get out to Portugal,” he said.
“I missed FP1 as my negative test result came back literally as they were about to go out on track, and we had to do seat fittings and so on.
“I did FP2 and FP3, so I got a few laps in before the race today. I felt incredibly nervous this morning. No pressure from the team, but just from myself to make sure I did a good job for everybody. I was happy with what I did.
“I went steady the first few stints; my pace was better in the second stint and I managed to hold off Vandoorne when the safety car came in.
“We would obviously have liked the win, but we didn’t quite have it today.
“For me, to get on the podium in my first World Endurance round is pretty good. Thank you to the team for the opportunity and speedy recovery to Fabio.”
The team were impressed too.
“Well done to Wayne for stepping in last minute,” said a spokesman.
“I think he did a fantastic job. A really, really strong job. A lot of pressure and he didn’t let us down at all.”