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United Autosports Planning ELMS, IMSA LMP2 Programs
- Updated: November 18, 2016
United Autosports is set for an expanded program with its new Ligier JS P217 Gibson beyond its recently confirmed 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, with plans to enter the LMP2 car in both the European Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship over the next 14 months.
Team co-owner Richard Dean has confirmed a full-season ELMS program next year, alongside a possible end-of-year run in the WeatherTech Championship, leading up to the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona and planned Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup effort.
“We already believe that we’ve got enough in place for us to commit to a 14-month program that will include Daytona as well,” Dean told Sportscar365.
Dean said the Anglo-American squad is building up a separate team for the LMP2 operation, which will be independent of its LMP3 efforts in the ELMS and British Prototype Cup.
It will enable the LMP2 car to be taken cross continent, with a North American debut in next year’s WeatherTech Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans currently under evaluation.
The ELMS season finale at Portimao takes place two weeks after the ten-hour Road Atlanta enduro, which Dean said is doable if they air-freight the car between events.
“There’s an expansion going on and as long as we’re on top of that, the three teams are running independently, there’s no reason why the P2 team couldn’t do another race as long as calendars and budgets fit,” he said.
Its driver lineup for the newly confirmed ELMS effort, meanwhile, is not yet determined, with Dean on-site at this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain to discuss with prospective drivers.
He said it would be their preference to retain the same ELMS lineup at Le Mans.
“I think it would be really easy to sign our Le Mans drivers today and have that done,” Dean said. “But we’re not going to Le Mans to just have that budget covered and say we’ve been there.
“Everybody on our team has been to Le Mans, whether it was with the Panoz team, or the Zytek Ginetta LMP1. We’ve already been and done it.
“This is United Autosports going there. The opportunity to go and do it was a big commitment with the car and equipment.
“We’re in for a penny and in for a pound. So we’re going to have a proper go at it.”
Dean said they expect to take delivery of the Ligier in January, with plans to have it on display at the Autosport International Show, in its Ligier UK booth.
The team will continue with two Ligier JS P3s in the ELMS, with Sean Rayhall, John Falb and Enzo Potolicchio being the first of the confirmed lineups announced.