United Autosports’ Team Principal Richard Dean pronounced himself “stunned” when he was informed that the team had been allocated only one entry for the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours with the team’s second Ligier JS P217 Gibson listed only as the third reserve.
The US-flagged but UK-based outfit, jointly owned by Dean and Zak Brown, earned their only place on the full entry via a Championship win in the Asian Le Mans Series but, as Dean observed this afternoon to DSC, that effectively cost them an entry via their ACO-rules commitments elsewhere in 2018 that would surely have otherwise been more or less guaranteed.
“It’s a staggering message to their customers,” said Dean, “that adding a successful Asian programme effectively cancels out a major commitment to all the other ACO Championships you are present in.
“We entered 11 cars across three ACO-run Championships this year, won races in the ELMS both overall and in LMP3 and brought new customers into the ladder through a three-car effort in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, as well as bringing four cars across three classes to Asia, winning a race apiece with all four of those cars, taking the Championship and staying in contention until the final round in two other classes.
“I am left with no other conclusion to reach than the fact that our Asian Series win effectively allowed the Selection Committee to take what, by any measure, would surely have been at least one selected entry on merit, off the table.
“We bring high-quality presentation and have brought big-name drivers to Le Mans with Montoya and di Resta (The team scoring a class podium at Le Mans in 2018).
“I am genuinely confused as to the message to the teams being sent here – It’s not about who is on the list, it’s about the fact that loyalty in depth, including our announcement weeks ago that we would be joining the FIA WEC in LMP2, does not seem to have been rewarded in any way at all.
“Effectively the only message to an LMP2 team here is that unless you qualify by right via the WEC there is no way you were going to get more than one car at Le Mans this year.
“It makes decisions about which Championships to support, and with how many cars, all the more difficult for us, and for everyone else, going forward.”