Anglo-American LMP2 team United Autosports will compete for the first time in the FIA WEC as a full-season entrant in the 2019/20 season.
The team, which is a frontrunner in the European Le Mans Series and competed in select rounds of last year’s IMSA WeatherTech season, will race a Ligier JS P217 with regular drivers Phil Hanson (who currently leads the Asian Le Mans Series championship) and IMSA DPi ace Filipe Albuquerque, who finished second in the WEC LMP2 title race in 2016 with RGR Sport.
This program strengthens United Autosports relationship with Ligier Automotive, with which it has been partnered since 2016.
“I’m super happy to be back in the FIA WEC,” Albuquerque said. “I feel I have unfinished business there. I finished P2 in 2016 in LMP2 so now with Phil Hanson and United I think we really have the package to win. It’s two years almost to the day that I met [co-owners] Zak [Brown] and Richard [Dean], and I could never believe our partnership would have got to this point.
“I’m excited to be racing in the 2019 ELMS and then going into the FIA WEC with them. It’s a good relationship we have together and we have been winning some races so why not continue and let’s see where we end up.”
Dean said that adding the WEC to its full-season commitments has been in the works for a long time.
“It’s been no secret that we have been trying to put a deal together to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship for some time now,” he said. “It has relied on a lot of factors fitting together, but I think it is the perfect time for United Autosports to make the next step in sports car racing.
“We have two great drivers in Phil and Filipe. Filipe really has brought Phil on in only one year of working with him, so I’m confident that will only continue into the coming years. We have ultimate belief in Ligier Automotive and relish this opportunity to take on a world championship with their full support.
“The championship visits some fantastic circuits too – some we have been to before and some will be new to us, but I’m looking forward to the new challenge ahead.”
The 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship begins at Silverstone in August 2019 and includes the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours, the final race before the new ‘Hypercar’ regulations take over the top class for the 2020/21 season.