At last weekend’s 1000 Miles of Sebring, United Autosports, which uses Motul lubricants, romped home to a class victory in LMP2, and an overall fourth in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) standings. Piloting the Gibson-powered Oreca winning car was Paul di Resta, Oliver Jarvis and Josh Pieron. United Autosport’s second car finished seventh in class, while in the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring, their third car of the weekend came home 11th overall and fifth in class. To tell us more is Richard Dean, co-owner of United Autosports.
Richard, congrats on a great result at the opening round of the WEC. How was the weekend from your perspective?
It was always going to be a big weekend for us. With us doing both IMSA (12 Hours of Sebring) and WEC (1000 Miles of Sebring), there’s a few things in play there and both are very big events. With the WEC, we stepped up to two cars for the first time as well, so there was a level there that we hadn’t run at before. IMSA with the 12 hours is always a big event on its own. So when you combine both of them and the prologue event, we had the team out there for two weeks, alternating between the races. The two teams ran independently and there was probably only three people that crossed over, and we got through it absolutely fine. A lot of work goes into it beforehand, from logistics to event planning. Plus, we’ve got a two-day test at Spa next week for ELMS with all the cars out, so we need to have duplicate equipment because we can’t be utilising everything. Once we had it all mapped out and planned, the actual execution of the events went without fault.
What’s Sebring like as a track for your team? It’s quite an old school American track with bumps. Do you enjoy it?
It’s totally unique. “Respect the bumps” is a selling point of Sebring’s marketing. It requires a different approach to car set up and a little bit of that comes down to experience, and as we’ve been there last year for the IMSA 12-hour race, it helped. You approach it as you do for any race, but in terms of car set up, durability and reliability are important because it’s a really tough circuit and the components have to be working well and well within their lifespan. Because if the component is marginal, if anywhere is going to break it or test it to its maximum, it’s going to be that circuit.
You mention you are testing at Spa next week. Even after this great win and start to the season, you don’t take your foot off the accelerator?
We’re always full time. We don’t have an off season. We race every single month of the year. We never stop, we never relax, we never take our foot off. Winning the opening race doesn’t really change that, other than it’s good to prove both cars are competitive. We had both cars in the top three in qualifying, and we were first and second for most of that race, until the red flag came out and that hurt one of the cars. So, it’s nice to know we’re competitive and we came away reassured that the work we’ve done has been positive. And it needed to be because the competition has stepped up. It’s a record grid with more cars than ever, and some great teams and driver line ups.
In endurance racing, reliability is key. How important is the partnership with Motul and its lubricants in helping you achieve that?
It’s hugely important. We did an awful lot of running across the two races, an eight-hour race one day and a 12 hour one the next. And the cars ran completely faultlessly from every aspect. But what’s nice is when you have a product like Motul, that aspect of racing becomes something you can almost put to the back of your mind and don’t have to worry about, allowing us to concentrate on other things. For example, the durability to cope with the bumps at Sebring. Because we know that everything we have around Motul’s lubrication – engine, gearbox, bearings – is like switching the lights on at home. You just know it’s going to work.
And there’s also a nice synergy between United Autosports, your engine supplier Gibson and Motul?
We’re a technical partner with Motul, but it’s the product that Gibson recommends anyway. And that’s reassuring. When we go into our pre-event briefings, we don’t discuss reliability. What’s clear is Gibson are the experts and its engineering excellence is right up there. So the fact they recommend us to use Motul, their endorsement is probably better than ours.