The announcement that Alex Lynn will join 2020 class winner Paul di Resta at Le Mans in United Autosports’ #23 Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 effort will undoubtedly be met with some head-scratching elsewhere down the entry with an air of highly-rated Platinum-ranked drivers now confirmed for United’s third entry win the race!
For Lynn, returning to the WEC grid after only a couple of races away, the tasks in hand are simple to define:
“This is about the future, everybody knows what’s coming and the reality is that you need to be in the shop window to be considered, and you need to be out there performing, and hopefully winning, in the right races!”
That’s a reference, of course, to the anticipated influx of factory and well-funded privateer efforts in the top class of prototype racing with the convergence of LMH and LMDH regulations to create a single top class in the FIA WEC, and a significantly expanded class in IMSA’s Championship too.
Whilst his more recent race-winning form has been with the factory Aston Martin Racing squad in GTE Pro, you don’t have to look too far back to a point where Lynn was inning in LMP cars”
“It’s absolutely true that it’s been a while since I raced in a prototype – but honestly it has always felt pretty much ‘plug and play’, whether it’s LMP2 (Lynn last raced for the TDS-run G-Drive Racing effort for a near-full 2017 season taking a race win and three pole positions), or a DPi (Alex helped Wayne Taylor Racing to the Sebring 12 Hour win in 2017 in their Cadillac).”
Before that Alex had eye-catching spells with the Manor outfit scoring fastest race laps in a car that was struggling to find finishing form.
Aston Martin Racing came calling and after a couple of seasons with the GTE Pro squad, their switch of emphasis from WEC to Formula One marked another watershed.
“It was sad to walk away from WEC after last season but with the Aston Martin team leaving GTE Pro and making it clear that there would be customer racing only in GT3 in 2021 I felt that with Formula E (with Mahindra) by then already sorted, I needed to concentrate on the future.
The spell with Aston Martin saw a hugely consistent season in year two, six out of seven races saw podium finishes, with the sole win coming in his final race of the season, at Le Mans before missing out on the season finale after a positive COVID 19 test.
“The future potential situation means finding the right places to be right now, despite the fact that there is still a long way to go before all of this happens, in this sport, even a week sometimes can feel like a long time, but in this case, there are a lot of people looking for the same opportunities and, having been in the single-seater pool for a while, I can say with confidence that sports cars is going to attract the attention of a whole new generation of drivers now.
“So it’s time to put myself out there and remind people what I can do, memories can be pretty short!”
So how did the United link come about?
“I raced with them once before, back in 2016 when I was still doing GP2, in the Gulf 12 Hours in an LMP3 car (together with his dad Shaun Lynn and family friend Richard Meins), we got a result (second in class and in the top 10 overall) and I’ve stayed in touch with Richard Dean ever since, on and off.
“That’s because, not only is he a good guy, but being a part of that team was a great feeling – everything was done well, properly and with confidence – you could see back then how good they were and when I saw that they had a third car and that Paul (di Resta) was doing the race in it, I knew that’s where I wanted to be!”
So did Richard call you or….?
“No, I DEFINITELY called him! Make no mistake I know what I want from the opportunity, and happily so do United.”
And the third driver?
“I don’t know for sure right now but I know that they are talking to a number of good people”.
I don’t need to ask what the objective is here for the race, do I?
“It’s my fifth Le Mans in a row and, even without the longer career game it’s a massive race for a professional driver – of course we want to win!”
And just how far up the order could that be if you do?
“I honestly haven’t thought about that but now you mention it, I was in the race (with G-Drive) in 2017 when the Jackie Chan DC Racing cars made it to the podium, a fantastic result, that made our DNF even harder to take. Let’s wait and see!”
Oh and one final point, if the Le Mans run does attract factory attention it wouldn’t be the first time that Lynn has seen the side of a factory LMP garage, here he is in 2015 at the Bahrain ‘Rookie Test sampling the Toyota TS040!