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Le Mans Road to Le Mans

United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying

United Autosport will "need to do something clever" to recover from its disappointing qualifying that meant both cars missed Hyperpole for the Le Mans 24 Hours, according to Tom Blomqvist.

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Joshua Pierson, Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis

The British driver ended up 14th, four places behind team-mate Filipe Albuquerque, after a "stressful" session blighted by red flags on Wednesday that decided the eight cars to progress to Thursday's Hyperpole shootout.

Blomqvist explained that a mistake on his only clear lap at the Ford Chicane had meant he ended up in a provisional 10th, before being docked his best time for failing to slow quickly enough when red flags were shown as he was entering the high-speed Porsche Curves.

The reigning IMSA SportsCar champion is confident that the #23 United ORECA-Gibson 07 can still contend for a podium in the World Endurance Championship blue ribband, but believes as a result of being "out of position relative to our speed" that his team will have to dip into its strategic toolbox.

"Now with the cars with a little less power, it’s quite hard to actually pass, so you’ve got to be smart," Blomqvist told Autosport.

"We need to do something clever to get us into a position where we can use the pace of the car and us drivers, and gain track position.

"To utilise the speed when you’re stuck in the train is not going to be possible, so we need to get ourselves somehow out of that.

"It means the first two stints, we’re potentially losing a minute to the leaders.

"It will take time for the race to unfold and I’m sure we’ll slowly be creeping our way towards the front of the field, just how long it’s going to take I don’t know.

"But let’s see how the race unfolds. We’re going to have a load of different scenarios, some strategies to work with to make our lives a bit easier."

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Tom Blomqvist

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 - Gibson of Tom Blomqvist

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

Team-mate Albuquerque set his best time on used tyres after his tangle with Matthieu Vaxiviere's Signatech Alpine at the Ford chicane caused one of the red flags.

He gained two positions when Blomqvist and Dries Vanthoor's TF Sport-run Racing Team Turkey ORECA both lost their best times, a fate that also hit the Graff entry of Giedo van der Garde.

Blomqvist was critical of the "ridiculous" decision to penalise him by removing his best lap and called the expectation to immediately slow to 80km/h, required by article 14.2.1 in the Le Mans supplementary regulations, "just unrealistic".

"They said I passed three marshal posts before I slowed down," said Blomqvist.

"The red flag came literally as I was turning into Porsche as the car is bouncing, the thing is on the edge.

"You’re going 200 [km/h] and something, you have to be precise. And apparently I should have just jumped on the anchors. It’s just ridiculous in my opinion.

"You’re going from 200 [km/h] to 80, it’s not like you’re in a chicane. It needs some context applied.

"The whole red flag procedure is for safety purposes. In my personal opinion, I did what was the safest thing in that instance."

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Vanthoor also voiced his displeasure with the decision to dock his best lap, which cost the 2021 GTE Pro polewinner a shot at Hyperpole.

"They can all check my onboard and check my data that I wasn’t doing anything silly," the BMW factory driver told Autosport.

"I know at the end it’s a safety thing, but for me it’s a bit harsh to take the laps away."

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