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Dean: “One in a Million” Incident Cost United LMP2 Victory

Richard Dean reveals loose TV camera knocked out No. 23 car’s ignition switch…

Photo: MPS Agency

Richard Dean revealed that United Autosports’ No. 23 Oreca 07 Gibson retired from the 1000 Miles of Sebring because a loose TV camera triggered the car’s onboard ignition off switch, describing it as “a one in a million thing.”

Josh Pierson, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist started the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship from pole position and led the first half of the race convincingly.

Pierson in particular managed to open up a significant gap to his LMP2 rivals until the car came to a halt on track between Turn 6 and 7 in the fourth hour.

Team co-owner and managing director Dean explained to Sportscar365 that Pierson reported to the team that an onboard TV camera, mounted on the car’s dashboard, became detached and was moving around in the cockpit.

“It was the one on the dash that came loose,” Dean said. “Josh radioed, ‘The camera just came loose on the car, it broke loose.’

“Then the next turn, by some form of miracle hit the inside of the ignition off switch and pushed it out.

“So it’s the switch that a marshal can [use] to disable the car on the outside by pulling it. It pushed it from the inside.

“It’s meant to be so that you can activate it from the outside, but if you give it a big enough hit on the inside, it’ll do the same job. Which is exactly what it did.

“He came on the radio and said the camera came loose. I would say five seconds later, we lost communications.”

Dean said the installment of the camera for the TV broadcast is mandatory if requested, indicating the team would need to be more vigilant of the installation process in future events.

“It’s not our camera, it’s not our kit,” he said. “If we’re going to prevent it happening again, if we’re not happy with the installation, we need to stick our hand up and say.

“That’s probably the only way we can say that we can stop something like that happening again.

“We have to double check somebody else’s work and double check anything that’s gone in around somebody that doesn’t work for our team being inside our cockpit. 

“The race has just finished, the car is back and we need to do a proper analysis of the sequence of events.

“It’s just one of those ‘you can’t believe it happened’ events and it happened.

“It’s more about making sure it doesn’t happen again. If you’re suggesting there’s some recourse, that is not the case.

“Ultimately we have to take some responsibility for making sure that we’re absolutely signed off on something that goes in our car.”

Dean praised the speed the Anglo-American squad’s pair of Orecas showed throughout the race, noting that Pierson, Jarvis and Blomqvist could likely have gone on to victory had the incident not occurred.

“It’s tough because they had a lot of pace,” he said.

“At that point still a lot can happen but it’s disappointing because I think both cars didn’t have a clean race but certainly the pace to have won this and probably the pace to have finished first and second, with all respect to JOTA. 

“I just feel bad for… the pole that Olly had, the stint that Olly had and especially the pace that Josh had on the triple stint where he just pulled away from everybody.

“He was super competitive. I don’t think anybody would have touched that car today.”

Dean said the incident was a “one in a million thing,” noting that his team failed to capitalize on its pace advantage in a race that Hertz Team JOTA ultimately went on to win in class.

“It’s a one in a million thing, but it actually happened at Le Mans last year where a piece of rubber flew up and hit the kill switch,” Dean added.

“It feels like a one-in-a-million but these things happen. It’s tough, it’s tough for that crew. The work that’s gone in, the drivers.

“When you have a dominant weekend like we’ve had here, the pace in both the 22 and the 23 car, we need to capitalize on those weekends and take full points and we didn’t.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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