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Wayne Boyd Finishes Ninth At Paul Ricard

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Wayne Boyd Finishes Ninth At Paul Ricard

Penalties play a major part in results.

United Autosports have begun their 2019 Michelin Le Mans Cup campaign with a top-10 finish at Paul Ricard today (13 April) as Naj Husain and Wayne Boyd brought the #24 Ligier JS P3 home in ninth place.

The opening round of the season began on Wednesday for the Michelin Le Mans Cup team as they attended the official prologue test. Two free practice sessions were held on Friday with qualifying and the race being staged today in dry and sunny conditions.

This year saw the return of Jim McGuire and Matt Bell, with Naj Husain also returning – this time racing alongside Wayne Boyd for the season opener, due to Colin Braun’s IMSA racing commitments. We also welcomed Rob Hodes to the team for the first time, racing alongside Garett Grist.

All three cars had a good start to the week at the prologue and during both free practice sessions showing good pace in the three Ligier JS P3s. During qualifying Rob was tagged by another car with six minutes left to run, meaning he would start from the back of the LMP3 field. Naj qualified P16, with Jim a little further up the road in P14.

The race began just after 16:00 on Saturday evening, with Jim McGuire, Rob Hodes and Wayne Boyd behind the wheel of the Ligier JS P3s. As the lights went green, Wayne started making his way through the field and was up to third after 20 minutes setting purple sectors and fastest laps. Unfortunately, Rob had a small spin and lost a couple of places he made on the start, while Jim also made up a few spots before going wide and dropping back.

With 40 minutes gone, the safety car was called out to rescue a car that had hit the barrier heavily. The marshals quickly recovered the car and the race went green, before the safety car was deployed again moments later, just as the pit lane opened.

Wayne pitted from second, still under safety car but getting hit by the car behind on entry to the pits. He handed the car over to Naj Husain, while Rob Hodes pitted from P17 to hand over to Garett Grist. Jim was last to pit and handed the #22 AERO Ligier over to Matt Bell in P13.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 30 with Naj in third, Matt in 11th and Garett 16th. Unfortunately, Naj was then caught by the pro drivers behind him on the restart, which caused a Porsche to spin and debris to scatter, which Naj brilliantly avoided. Before long, Matt caught Naj and passed him for seventh place and started chasing down the cars in front. Unfortunately, both Matt and Garett (along with 10 other drivers) then picked up a two-minute stop and go penalty for passing the red light at pit exit when they left the pits.

Resuming 10th (Matt) and 18th (Garett), Naj was then penalised for overtaking under the safety car procedure, the stewards handing him a drive through penalty. With 15 minutes of the race left to run, an FCY was thrown to rescue a car that crashed at the final corner and for a loose wheel on track. The race went green with seven minutes left on the clock, with Naj P9, Matt P10 and Garett P14, positions the team maintained at the chequered flag. Matt Bell was also given the accolade of fastest lap of the race on the final lap.

The Michelin Le Mans Cup now heads to Monza, Italy for round two.

Wayne Boyd(GB), driver car #24, United Autosports: Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives: Templepatrick, Northern Ireland. Age: 28 “I really enjoyed my first race in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. It wasn’t the ideal starting position but we gambled on me starting, which paid off. I loved my stint, it’s probably the best one I’ve done in a long time. I definitely could have got into the lead, but the safety car came out twice which hampered that, but it was the right way to go. Naj got in the car and did a solid job and brought it home P9 so it was a good start.”