United Autosports co-owner and managing director Richard Dean says the team doesn’t want to “overcommit” to too many programs as it continues discussions with manufacturers on potential factory LMDh efforts.
The Anglo-American squad has dropped its GT4 European Series program and any short-term plans of re-entering the GT3 ranks in order to focus on its LMP2 and LMP3 customer operations across the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup and part-time LMP2 effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Dean explained the strategic re-focus has been made to place a greater effort on securing a manufacturer partner for a WEC Hypercar class effort.
“Clearly, every team here in LMP2 has got an ambition,” Dean told Sportscar365. “Some are ready, some aren’t. Some are probably very capable.
“We’d like to think that we’re capable if we’re given an opportunity.
“What we don’t want to do is overstretch ourselves or overcommit, into one barracks or another.
“While talks are still ongoing, and opportunities are there, we don’t want to overcommit to something that was for either this year or next year, if there’s an opportunity in 2024.
“What we probably wouldn’t do is if we got an opportunity in the top category in prototypes, we wouldn’t do both [LMDh and GT3].
“So while ever there is an opportunity in the top category in prototypes, GT3 is on ice a little bit.
“If we get to a point where we’ve been rejected on opportunities there, we’ll pick that back up and see if there’s an opportunity in GT3.”
Balancing its customer-based programs in LMP2 and LMP3 with top-class prototype prospects has been the primary objective according to Dean.
“We want to continue to deliver for those guys and not be distracted,” he said. “I think right now, we’ve got a lot of projects, we’re on top of all of them so we can perform competitively in all of them.
“I don’t know where the tipping point is where we overstretch ourselves. We haven’t gotten to it yet but with everything that’s going on in the world, motorsport is no different.
“To be able to do a good job in any business, it’s about people, it’s about getting hold of the right people and that’s getting harder and harder.”
Dean confirmed they’ve re-allocated their former GT4 staff to other projects in the organization, including its second WEC LMP2 car this year.
It’s understood United has also signed current Toyota Gazoo Racing race engineer Jakob Andreason as its new technical director that’s set to begin in September, although Dean declined to comment on the development, which is believed to be aimed to bolster its chances of securing a manufacturer partner.
When asked if it’s too late to land an LMDh program for 2023, Dean admitted it’s “unlikely” but are still hard at work for future opportunities.
“We got discussions going on and I’m sure that the other top teams in LMP2 are having similar discussions,” he said. “Some manufacturers are going to commit and some are not.
“We hope we get an opportunity. We hope we don’t get overlooked. People don’t presume that we’ve got a deal or whatever but it’s still an exciting time, isn’t it?
“Ultimately what you can’t escape is that there isn’t a single LMP2 team that I can see that’s got a [confirmed] deal.
“When you look at the commitment that’s been made it’s Ganassi with Cadillac, Penske with Porsche, AF Corse with Ferrari.
“Those are ongoing relationships that have enabled them to secure those deals.”
Dean downplayed the prospects of the FIA and ACO’s mandate of IMSA-focused LMDh manufacturers, such as BMW and Honda/Acura, needing to also contest at least a portion of the WEC season in order to receive invites to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That requirement is believed to have encouraged both manufacturers to potentially mount parallel WEC programs in 2024.
“I hadn’t really thought the opportunities through and what that might mean to us and the people that we were talking to, but you’d have to assume that that might be a positive for us,” said Dean.
“At the moment, the best plan that we’ve got is we just got to keep proving that we’re competitive. More times than not [we’re at] the top of the timesheets and we’ve got to keep doing that.
“And if we can present ourselves well, people can walk past [our hospitality unit] and think that if you put a manufacturer sign above the door, we could handle the operational side of running a race project.
“That’s all we can do and hope that an opportunity comes up for us.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report