Maldonado "devastated" to cause intra-United Le Mans clash

Manuel Maldonado admits he is "devastated" at causing the crash that eliminated two of United Autosports' LMP2 entries from winning contention in last weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Maldonado "devastated" to cause intra-United Le Mans clash

European Le Mans Series regular Maldonado, younger cousin of one-time Formula 1 race winner Pastor, was making his first start at La Sarthe in United's #32 Oreca 07-Gibson alongside Nico Jamin and Jonathan Aberdein.

But the Venezuelan driver's race ended in disaster in the sixth hour of the race during a rain shower as he skated through the gravel at the Dunlop chicane, collecting the sister #23 United entry of Paul di Resta.

It ended the #32 crew's race on the spot, while sending the #23 car to the pits for repairs and extinguishing any hopes of class victory for di Resta and his teammates Alex Lynn and Wayne Boyd.

“I’m obviously devastated with how the race ended," said Maldonado. "I’m very sorry to the team and my teammates who have put so much work into this race.

"Before that, we were running well, and Nico and Jonathan had begun making their way back through the pack so we were looking good. Hopefully I can come back and take on another Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s such an awesome event to be involved with.”

Di Resta, Lynn and Boyd finally recovered to finish fourth in the LMP2 class, two laps down on the winning Team WRT car.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster week," said di Resta. "We had a very strong car and made it through to the Hyperpole qualifying which I think was a big job.

 

"It was then obviously a chaotic start with the rain, and it was very unfortunate what happened with Manuel making the mistake he made which t-boned me and ruined their chances of finishing the race.

"We were quite high up at that point and were taking a very cautious approach from 10:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock in the night, but we had that fighting spirit and powered our way back to fourth. I think you can say a job very well done but off the back of our win last year it is a disappointing result."

Di Resta was part of the LMP2 class-winning crew from 2020 along with Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque, who were piloting United's #22 Oreca this time around with regular FIA World Endurance Championship squadmate Fabio Scherer, another Le Mans novice.

The #22 machine was running in the top three in class during the night when it was hit by an alternator issue that required 90 minutes in the garage to fix, which combined with further electrical gremlins left Hanson, Albuquerque and Scherer 35 laps down at the finish.

“It was an unfortunate race," said Albuquerque. "Hard for everyone in the beginning with the rain. We managed to survive for the good stint we had in the dry. Unfortunately, when we were chasing the leaders, we had an issue.

"It’s frustrating but it's like that at Le Mans. I think without that we were definitely on the strike for the win. It is what it is. We were the winners last year. This year we were not, but we will come back.”

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