World Endurance Championship - Imola

Qualifying in the Italian sunshine saw James at the helm of the #59 720S LMGT3, resulting in a P10 grid placement after the Hyperpole shootout. From the off, James quickly gained four places, running P6 while fellow Brit Caygill, who started P15, also made progress in the first hour, moving up to P11.

For James and the #59 crew, progress was unfortunately hampered by a right rear puncture - but moving into the second hour, both United Autosports cars were in the top 10. James swapped out, replaced by Nicolas Costa and Nico Pino took the seat in the sister car (#95). Continuing the good work, they would sit P7 and P9 respectively at the half-way point of the race. – before the weather took a turn, the track was declared wet and the spotlight focussed on tyre strategy.

Car #59 put on wet tyres when Gregoire Saucy took over, changing to slicks at the mid-point of his 50-lap session as the conditions cleared. The Swiss racer gained a couple of places to finish the race P11 - but after running within the top half of the field for the majority of the race, the team deserved more.

On an alternative strategy, the #95 crew committed to slick tyres on a partially wet track, with Nico Pino working hard in the McLaren LMGT3 Evo in increasingly greasy conditions. When Marino Sato took over with 80 minutes to go, it was a determined push to the finish – and the #95 car secured P6 at the checkered flag.

James Cottingham: “Super happy with the progress we made this weekend after Qatar and all the testing we’ve done. United Autosports and McLaren have done a solid job throughout. We were unlucky with the puncture, after having such strong race pace, and then the Virtual Safety Car within a lap or two of Nicolas’ first stop which put us out of the game. We will come back to Spa even stronger with this really fast race car.”

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