LE MANS, France (June 14, 2017) - Nearly every year since 1923, a small village in France has been the scene of incredible innovation, triumph and even tragedy as the host of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race is well established as the greatest challenge in motorsport, and is an event where ideas can find victorious validation, or face defeat and be relegated to history.
This year as the sport celebrates the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology will once again be a part of this huge weekend as a tremendous field of entries in four different (LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro, GTE-Am) classes take to the over 8-mile circuit for the 2017 edition of Le Mans.
Having led and raced to the finish in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans on board the Michael Shank Racing effort, 2017 will see AERO proudly carried by United Autosports. The AERO paint-based outer layer provides teams with a lightweight, aerodynamic, and incredibly strong film-based paint appliqué solution for competition machinery. The 24 has seen margins of victory grow slimmer every year, making every ounce a critical key to victory as teams target the AERO advantage in the huge race.
The team, with drivers Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque, is making its first-ever start at the circuit known as “Le Sarthe,” but the UK-based organization has already proven itself a winner in European Le Mans Series competition at Silverstone. The team also had a productive Test Day, covering some 76 laps as Owen and de Sadeleer learned the circuit for the first time, with former Audi LMP1 pilot Albuquerque learning the nuances of the LMP2 machine on the day.
“I’m really excited to be back racing at Le Mans again,” said Albuquerque. “It’s such an incredible circuit and to drive the new LMP2 car at Le Mans with the increase in speed is incredible. We had a good test, lots of mileage covered for Will and Hugo – not as much as we’d have liked with red flags and full course yellow periods but they still were able to get a feel of the car round Le Mans. There are still a few things we need to work on, but I can’t wait for race week.”
The team will not only be racing in the 24 Hour event, but will also field three entries in the second-ever running of the “Road to Le Mans” event, which will see a field of LMP3 and GT3 machines take to the track for two races. Last year, United Autosports earned valuable experience in the 2016 running of the Road to Le Mans race, earning both pole and fastest lap on the day with the Ligier JS P3 machine.
Both “Road To Le Mans” races will last one hour, as race one will take place on Thursday ahead of Le Mans qualifying, with race two set on the dramatic race day stage with a green flag set for 11:30 AM local time on Saturday.
Richard Meins and Shaun Lynn will pilot the No. 23 Gulf Marine-liveried Ligier JS P3, as Jim McGuire and Matt Bell will race the No. 22 AERO Ligier JS P3, and will be joined by Silverstone ELMS LMP3 race winners John Falb and Sean Rayhall.
"The Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans is just an absolutely epic circuit and an epic event,” said McGuire. “As an American, I'm thrilled to take part in the Road to Le Mans race this year. The car feels good, the AERO livery looks fantastic and United Autosports is such an awesome team, so it will be a real treat to drive the Ligier JS P3 machine through the 13.6 km French circuit in front of all the fans. I can’t wait!
“We had a great weekend last year at the inaugural Road to Le Mans event and I’m sure this year will be no exception,” said Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports. “It’s fantastic that the LMP3 cars get to race on the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours circuit, just hours before the main race begins. I’m pleased John and Sean could join this event too, racing alongside our usual Michelin Le Mans Cup guys, Jim, Matt, Richard and Shaun. I’m looking forward to seeing how we get on.”
Thursday, June 15
5:30-6:25 p.m. (11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m. ET) – Road to Le Mans Race 1
Saturday, June 17 – Sunday, June 18
9 – 9:45 a.m. (3-3:45 a.m. ET) Warmup
11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. (5:30-6:25 a.m. ET) Road to Le Mans Race 2
3 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) – Start – 24 Hours of Le Mans