Sportscar365 is recognizing its chosen top performers and key events from the 2020 sports car racing season. Up next is the team of the year, as selected by website staff.
Team of the Year – United Autosports
United Autosports had nothing short of a sensational year, winning the FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That the team managed to achieve such rampant success in an LMP2 formula boasting an abundance of strong outfits – most of which were operating the same Oreca 07 Gibson car – is a testament to the level of performance it kept up throughout 2020.
Across the WEC and ELMS, United won a remarkable seven out of nine LMP2 races it contested this year and claimed pole position for eight of those.
This helped Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson – who teamed up with Paul di Resta for the WEC events – to claim a landmark drivers’ championship double.
Designated Silver driver Hanson was a key part of the success, with the 21-year-old’s pace often ranking him among the star names on the fastest lap charts. He also brought home United’s first Le Mans win after a thrilling final stint battle with Jota Sport.
Further to its LMP2 domination, the team also won the European LMP3 title with a Ligier JS P320 Nissan and never finished off either of the ELMS prototype podiums.
The roots of United’s on-track success can be traced to its backroom staff, starting with co-owners Richard Dean and Zak Brown who have progressively built up a talented working group of teams that have become leaders in their respective categories.
Next year United will aim to defend its various prototype titles, whilst pushing for more growth in the form of a GT racing return with the McLaren 570S GT4.
When asked in August about the secret to the team’s recent form, Albuquerque said: “It seems easy, but it’s never easy.
“We never stop to find out how we can go faster. We always need to improve because I’m sure that all the other teams are ready to beat us.
“When everyone knows what they have to do, the results come naturally. We react well as a group to whatever situation is coming, and we never take anything for granted.”
***The ROWE Racing program is run by a company called MCG, in which the ‘C’ stands for competence. And that’s exactly what ROWE displayed this year when it won the two 24-hour majors at the Nürburgring and Spa. First came its N24 triumph, using the rain to bring its BMW M6 GT3 into the fight before beating Audi on strategy. Then came Spa, where again the wet weather coincided with its No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 R charging to the front. One type of GT3 car is enough for most teams, so it’s impressive to see how ROWE has managed to master two very different pieces of German equipment.
***Like a fine wine, Corvette Racing only gets better with age. The Pratt & Miller-run team entered a new era in 2020, introducing the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R which delivered an IMSA GT Le Mans title at the first attempt against what looks set to be the category’s strongest full-season grid for a while. Beating BMW and Porsche largely came down to the effectiveness of the crew, both during races and in the many months of preparation to get the new car right.
***The FIA World Endurance GT champion and Le Mans GTE-Pro winner can’t be overlooked. Aston Martin Racing has enjoyed many successful years, but the Prodrive-run operation’s final charge was arguably its best. Strength in both the factory driver lineup and in the engineering team, led by Gustavo Beteli who took over from Dan Sayers as AMR’s technical lead, made Aston a potent force in the tri-manufacturer fight.
***Ferrari’s GT racing partner AF Corse increased its efforts in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup this year, running two full-season cars. That paid off as the team made a brilliant strategy call at the final pit stop of the year that enabled Alessandro Pier Guidi to win the title. AF Corse also clinched WEC GTE-Am honors as it helped several Ferrari customers to bank silverware.