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Dean: United GT3 Step Would Depend on LMDh Progress

GT3 “interesting” for United Autosports but move would depend on whether LMDh program arises…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

United Autosports is continuing to monitor a potential return to GT3 racing but such a commitment will likely depend on whether the team secures an involvement in the LMDh or LMH top-level prototype formulas, according to Richard Dean.

United co-owner Dean told Sportscar365 that GT3 remains an “interesting option” for the decorated LMP2 and LMP3 squad, but acknowledged that it doesn’t currently have a program “sat there ready” to announce.

The Anglo-American outfit returned to GT racing earlier this year, competing in the GT4 European Series with a pair of McLaren 570S GT4s.

United co-owner Zak Brown spoke last fall of the program’s potential as a “good entry point” for the team’s GT3 ambitions, while Dean more recently indicated that GT4 is enabling United to build an operation that could go on to be competitive in the GT3 arena.

However, Dean also explained that United is “pushing hard” for an LMDh program, and that the outcome of its work on that side will influence how it chooses to develop its GT racing stable.

“We’re pushing hard for an opportunity in LMDh or Hypercar,” he said. “What we wouldn’t do, if that opportunity came about, is we wouldn’t be looking to take on another new project. We’d actually be looking to drop a project rather than take a new one on.

“Part of the reason why we’re not sat here making decisions now – and to do GT3 we should be making decisions now – is if we’re prioritizing our wish list, we’re pushing hard on an LMDh opportunity.

“We’re by no means guaranteed to get one, but we want to push right until the last to make sure that we’ve given ourselves every chance. And if that’s a yes, GT3 is probably a no.

“We’ll look at all our activities and see what we could do to scale down, to make sure that we’re really focused on that. But if LMDh is a ‘no’ then maybe GT3 is more of a realistic proposition. Maybe not for next year.”

United’s GT4 European Series venture started with a win at the Monza season-opener, while Charlie Fagg and Bailey Voisin are currently second in the Silver Cup standings.

The team is no stranger to GT3 competition, having previously operated Audi R8s and McLaren MP4-12Cs domestically and in Europe before switching to LMP3 in 2016.

Dean explained that United, like many teams, is interested in the future direction of GT3 which has been heavily rumored as a successor to GTE in the FIA World Endurance Championship, following its confirmed replacement of GT Le Mans in IMSA from 2022.

“GT4 has allowed us to build up a team that wouldn’t take an awful lot of addition for it to step into the GT3 paddock,” said Dean. “So we’ve got the groundwork and the basis of it with our GT4 team.

“You can’t underestimate GT3. To think you can just step into the paddock and compete against some of the other quality teams there, you’re definitely going to fall flat on your face.

“If we do it, it’s got to be right. It can’t be a half-hearted, diluted program. It’s got to be wholehearted. And it’s got to be with the right car.

“Everybody presumes that if we do anything in sports cars or GT racing it will be with McLaren. It’s not necessarily the case.

“And we’ve got our eye on where GT3 is going in the future. There’s lots of noise with GT3, especially after IMSA have made their announcement of which direction it’s going.

“So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the [WEC] paddock and what might happen at Le Mans. If all the rumors are confirmed, GT3 might be a good place to be for the future, for Le Mans.”

United Hoping to Get Top-Level Chance “On Merit”

Regarding United Autosports’ prototype racing aspirations, Dean suggested that the company’s management has not been going “in and out of manufacturers’ headquarters” to try to weave an LMDh deal together.

Instead, the team is focusing on cementing its own reputation in LMP2 and the other classes in which it is involved, to prove its potential as a future top-division entrant.

LMDh is due to come online in 2023 with Audi, Porsche, BMW and Acura joining the class in IMSA competition. Audi and Porsche LMDhs are also due to race in the WEC against LMH machinery from the likes of Toyota, Peugeot and Ferrari.

“We’re not going up to the manufacturers and asking them what’s on offer,” said Dean. “What we’re doing is trying to focus on what we’re doing here.

“We’re trying to demonstrate that we can take a car that’s effectively a one-make series and can hopefully be seen to do a better job than most, and maybe a better job than anybody.

“If we can prove that’s repeatable and not a one-off fluke – which I believe last year we did – we’re hoping that on merit we get an opportunity and I would hope we’re an obvious choice for a manufacturer to consider.

“We’re really concentrating on doing the best that we can and showing all the activities that we’ve got, that we’re a winning team and that we present ourselves well to be a good partner with quality people that would complement any program at the top level.

“The people is a really important thing: we’ve made some really strong additions over the last 18 months.

“With Dave Greenwood leading our technical team, he’s built a really good base and philosophy that is having an impact on everything that we do, including GT4 and LMP3.

“I think those are the things that we’re hoping people are watching and can see. We hope that gets us an opportunity on merit.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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