Le Mans, France –June 19, 2018 – With 59 teams total, 20 teams in the LMP2 category, and starting 14th in their class, Owen and his teammates fought their way to the podium.
Owen’s teammate, Hugo de Sadeleer started the race and immediately set the precedent that United Autosports was there to compete. Sadeleer held strong pace and picked up several positions before handing the #32 Ligier JS P217 over to Owen. The American stayed in for a full triple stint, matching the pace and progress of his teammate. Le Mans rookie Juan Pablo Montoya also proved to be quick in the LMP2 machine. Unfortunately, the demand of Le Mans takes no prisoners. Montoya had an off at the famous Indianapolis Corner, which requires a high-speed entry and sharp left turn. Minor damage to the nose of the #32 brought Montoya back to the pits for repairs. Even with the lost time, United Autosports was still running in the top ten.
Just before the half way mark an electrical issue made itself known in the telemetry of the #32 Ligier JS P217. It was back to the pits for United Autosports and another setback, but far from anything to slow the team’s path to the podium. Each driver completed triple stints throughout the night and by the morning the #32 was nearing the top 5. Montoya’s morning was spent fighting between the 3rd and 4th place positions with the #28 TDS Racing Oreca and #39 Graff-SO24 machine. In one of the last three stints of the race, Sadeleer suffered a puncture and was forced to crawl his way back to the pits to keep from damaging the body of the car, which lost valuable time. After starting all the way from 14th, it seemed that Owen and United Autosports had finished the grueling race in 5th place.
Not long after the checkered flag flew, an investigation was opened on the winning #26 G-Drive car and the 3rd place #28 TDS Racing car. Both cars were disqualified for installing an illegal part to their refueling rigs that gave them an advantage during pit stops. With both teams knocked off the podium, Will Owen and United Autosports officially claimed 3rd place at one of the most historic races in history.
Will Owen – Driver
“It was a crazy 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m a little blown away and I still don’t really know what to think. We were originally happy with a fifth place finish since we had worked so hard and pushed ourselves to have really good pace. We were really proud of how we worked well together as a team and how we executed the race. Fifth was a great finish considering all the problems we had with punctured tires and mechanical issues that we had to fix.
Hearing the news that we ended up being third was one of the craziest feelings I’ve ever had. It doesn’t change anything that we did because we ran the same exact race and worked just as hard, but it feels so much better to finish third than it does fifth for such a historic race, plus knowing our names are in the history books now. It’s really made me appreciate the effort we put in more which allowed us to finish third rather than fifth. I’m so thankful to be running with a team that is honest and operates with integrity. United Autosports didn’t try to find any grey areas in the rules or flat out cheat. I trust that United Autosports is always going to run between the lines and make the right decisions. I’m hoping to continue my career with them and keep getting great results at Le Mans and throughout the rest of the races.
It was really nice to work with Juan Pablo Montoya and Hugo de Sadeleer. I learned a ton from them and they were both quick. Juan has a very unique perspective that not many other drivers have. It was cool to see his approach with the car after driving all the different things that he has over the years and being able to learn from that. Hugo and I push each other and make each other better and I’m still learning from him all the time and that’s a really nice thing about having him as a teammate. I’m very thankful for the team that United Autosports put together who allowed us to make it through the race and finish on the podium.”
Le Mans, France – June 14, 2018 – Will Owen is back in France to compete in his second year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with United Autosports. Owen will be looking to better his 4th place result of 2017 with new teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who may be an FIA Formula One and Verizon IndyCar star but a rookie to Le Mans, and Owen’s European Le Mans Series teammate Hugo De Sadeleer, who joined him in last years race.
Just as the race is the longest on the schedule, so is the journey to the green flag. The American has already had several track sessions during testing at Le Mans a week prior to now and will have two qualifying sessions before a final warm up on race day. Finally, Owen and his teammates will battle against 59 other teams, 20 teams in total in the LMP2 class, for a spot on the podium at the end of the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans that will start at 3:00 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. CST) on Saturday the 16th of June.
“This is my second time competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m excited to be back and make an effort to improve my result. It’s a lot different feeling this year since I already have experience with the track. I’m a lot more comfortable on track, which makes being off the track more enjoyable and I’ve been able to apply a lot of the things I learned last year and feel I have made a big step forward. We have a bigger team with two cars at United this year and I’m racing with a Formula One great, Juan Pablo Montoya who has raced just about everything, but he’s a rookie to Le Mans and even so, I have been able to learn a lot from him about his approach to setting up the car. We’ve worked hard so far and we have made some big improvements over the first couple of track sessions. I’m looking forward to what is to come based on how we have been improving. We should be in a pretty good spot for the race with the Ligier being nice to drive this year with good top speed. The experience of this event is so special and I’m really just trying to take it all in.”