Superb recovery drive nets championship lead for Phil Hanson

Phil Hanson opened his 2023 campaign in style after an outstanding recovery drive netted the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 lead after the gruelling 1000 Miles of Sebring.

Lining up seventh in class for the start of the eight-hour contest, Phil, Filipe Albuquerque, and Frederick Lubin battled from a lap down in the #22 United Autosports ORECA 07 to cross the line just three seconds from what would have been a remarkable victory.

Phil started the race before handing over to Lubin for his first WEC stint where a pit stop infringement under Full Course yellow conditions caused the car dropped to 12th position some 2 minutes and 29 seconds behind the leader.

From there it was an outstanding job by Phil, as the car not only recovered the lap but moved into the podium positions, with the team utilising an alternative strategy to climb the ranks, which then paid off as the race entered its final stages.

The team were just three seconds from victory at the chequered flag but left with maximum points and the championship lead as the winning car was not registered for the full season of racing.

Phil now heads into the second round of the FIA WEC championship in Portimão, a track at which he has claimed numerous European Le Mans Series victories, as well as a WEC podium the last time it visited the Portuguese circuit.

Before then, however, Phil tackles the ELMS’ Official Tests on April 20, heading straight into the opening weekend of the season, with the 4 Hours of Barcelona taking place on Sunday, April 23.

Superb recovery drive nets championship lead for Phil Hanson

Phil explained: “It was an amazing result to come away from the weekend with maximum points after the race. It was a shame not to finish first on track, missing out by a few seconds, however, given the nature of our race, I think it was an astonishing result to come back to second and be so close to the lead.

“In the first hour of the race, we had a penalty and dropped from what was effectively second at that point, to last, and well over a lap down. The pace was there - the car was fantastic, and the team did an awesome job with the strategy allowing us to gain back a lap and come through to take second.

“I was really happy with my pace throughout the race. I had some strong battles in my second double stint, which allowed us to get on to the podium on the alternate strategy, which ended up playing out in our favour in the long run. It was the perfect way to start the year given that it all looked like it had gone horribly wrong after the first hour when we were last.

“I'm now looking ahead to the second round of WEC in Portimão as well as the first round of ELMS at Barcelona. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going after a brilliant weekend in Sebring.”