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Boyd toasts his 'perfect' start in dominant win as Le Mans series gets under way

 

Wayne Boyd

It was the perfect start for Wayne Boyd as sportscar racing resumed with the first round of the European Le Mans series at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France.

Boyd led the way for United Autosport's LMP3 team with pole position and went on to complete a dominant victory set up by his new co-driving partners Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon.

It completed a great day for the Anglo-American UA team, who, despite some late drama, also won the LMP2 category and took overall victory.

It was the Templepatrick driver, now a five-year veteran of the UA team, who was handed responsibility for qualifying and he duly delivered with fastest lap and pole position for their 2020-generation Ligier-Nissan.

Gamble, just 19 and Britain's Young Driver of the Year in 2018, took the opening stint of the four-hour race and surged into the LMP3 lead.

Except during pit stops they stayed ahead, Wheldon taking over for the middle stint and maintaining their lead.

Boyd was held back for the final push for the line, re-joining the race in third after the last pit stop but he rapidly closed on the two cars ahead, passing the leading Inter Europol Ligier of Nigel Moore with 20 minutes remaining.

"It could not have gone any better," said Boyd.

"The new car was perfect and the team did a superb job to keep us at the front. It is always tense waiting to do the final stint and when I got in the car, I still had a bit of work to do at the end.

"But with the car working so well, I was confident I could bring home the win."

However, there was late drama for UA's LMP2 team.

They had controlled the race with their pair of new Orecas and seemed on course for a one-two finish until the last hour.

Phil Hanson, again partnered by his 2019 championship winning team-mate Filipe Albuquerque, took the lead from the sister car of Alex Brundle, Will Owen and Job van Uitert with just 50 minutes remaining but was forced back to the pits with a puncture, handing the lead and the victory to a surprised van Uitert.

Next up for Boyd and the team is round two at Spa in Belgium in early August.

Belfast Telegraph