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HANSON: Wrapping Up a Memorable Year

Double 2019-20 WEC, 2020 ELMS LMP2 champion Phil Hanson checks into Sportscar365 following 8H Bahrain season-ender…

Photo: United Autosports

Only fourth place in Bahrain was a shame taking into account Filipe [Albuquerque], Paul [di Resta] and I had taken our No. 22 United Autosports Oreca to victory in the previous four races in Bahrain, COTA, Spa and Le Mans.

We clearly had the pace to win in Bahrain again as Paul and I had taken pole position, like we had done last year, despite it not being my greatest-ever lap – it was still good enough to secure pole by over one-second on combined times.

We headed into the eight-hour race with a strong, fast car but we were ultimately surprised by the pace of the No. 37 and No. 38 Goodyear-shod cars, which made it a tough race and not helped by some self-inflicted pain.

At the start, Paul pulled away but the Nos. 37 & 38 came back at us although we held a seven-second lead with one hour gone.

Our No. 22 was two-secs down on the leading No. 37 after two hours, 12 seconds on three hours but only one second separated us at mid distance.

Photo: United Autosports

We were mysteriously losing at least three seconds at each scheduled pit-stop to our rivals and had been a little conservative on tires when I took over from Paul in the first half of the race.

I lost time when leading after the car had a monumental ‘snap’ causing a spin, thankfully without contacting anything, but it cost us valuable time.

We were third, 13 seconds behind after five hours, but fifth with two hours to run, after we’d got a harsh five-second pit-stop penalty after a pit-lane indiscretion.

But Paul suffered a fuel pick-up issue which resulted in him coasting slowly into the pits from the second to last corner which delayed us by almost one minute.

When all these little time-consuming issues were added up, it’s easy to see why we finished 28 seconds behind the No. 37 at the checkered flag.

Photo: United Autosports

So, it was disappointing not to finish our 2019-20 WEC title winning season on a high with our fifth win of the season, or even our seventh podium from eight-races.

But overall looking back, we’ve got away with a few things in other races so it was almost inevitable that we’d get a race like this one day.

It was still time to celebrate after the race in Bahrain, being awarded the silverware, and reflecting on what had been a strange, in many respects, but very, very good season.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Filipe and Paul and of course United Autosports. They’ve been hugely professional throughout and the team fully deserves the WEC title and its first Le Mans victory.

Photo: United Autosports

Phil Hanson (@PhilHansonRace) is a European Le Mans Series race-winner, driving for United Autosports in the ELMS and FIA World Endurance Championship.

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