United Autosports has won the European Le Mans Series LMP3 Teams’ title for a second consecutive year – second place in the sixth and final round of the championship in Portugal today (22 Oct) also earning American duo John Falb and Sean Rayhall the Driver’s LMP3 crown as the sister Wayne Boyd/Christian England/Mark Patterson Ligier scored its first LMP3 race win of the season. But it was disappointment for the Anglo-American team in attempting to win LMP2 at its first attempt when Filipe Albuquerque/Will Owen/Hugo de Sadeleer recorded second place overall in the Four Hours of Portimão to leave the trio 12-points adrift of championship honours despite them scoring two outright race wins this season.
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United Autosports has contested the ELMS P3 category for the past two years, scoring an incredible 17 top-sixes from 12 races. This year marked its first season in LMP2, creditably achieving six top-six placings. The Leeds-based team, which recorded an amazing top-four class placing – fifth position overall – on its Le Mans 24 Hour and FIA World Endurance Championship début in June, has scored eight wins in the 12 ELMS races contested to date. Qualifying was a very fraught affair for United with red flags in the separate LMP2 (one stoppage) and LMP3 time trials (two stoppages). Rayhall clocked the fastest time in LMP3 but exceeded track limits resulting in him losing the pole lap with no time left to set another time and a back of the 35-car grid start. Boyd inherited pole but his time around the bumpy 2.78-mile track near Portimão was beaten in the dying moments. De Sadeleer made a stunning start, taking the lead on lap two, and headed the field for the majority of the opening half of the race before handing over the #32 Ligier to fellow Portimão “rookie” Owen on 130mins immediately as the race went Full Course Yellow. Unfortunately, the Swiss was deemed to have exceeded the pit-lane maximum speed which forced Owen to serve a 55secs stop-go penalty dropping the #32 from first to third. Albuquerque took over for the final 58mins placed fourth but snatched second place with less than five minutes remaining, eventually finishing 38secs behind the winning car. In LMP3, Boyd (#3) stormed in to the class lead on 43mins, handing over to Patterson (70mins) while a charging Rayhall (#2) was into second place on 100mins. Falb took over the #2 from his fellow American 30mins later under a mid-race FCY with England taking the wheel of the fourth-placed #3 Ligier. Falb survived contact and a subsequent spin but remained first after the #2’s final pit-stop with 45mins but 15mins later, England in the “sister” #3 swept ahead to score his car’s first class win of the season despite being clipped into a spin with less than 15mins remaining. United and its drivers claimed the titles by 22-points.