British sportscar racer Andy Meyrick ended his season with an eye-catching return to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship – the premier US sportscar racing series – when he joined United Autosports USA for the blue riband Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday.
Meyrick, who has played a key role in United Autosport’s LMP3 prototype programme for the past two years, was called up by the team for on assault on the class in the coveted 10-Hour season finale.
It was Meyrick’s fourth crack at the race, having most recently competed there in the unique DeltaWing back in 2016.
Joined in the United Autosports Ligier JS P320 by 19-year-old German Niklas Krütten and BRDC Rising Star Tom Gamble, Andy enjoyed a flawless build-up to the event through practice. And this set-up work paid off as Krütten took the class pole in Friday’s qualifying session.
The German also started the race, and delivered a strong opening triple-stint, spending most of the early spell in the class lead. This was no easy feat in an incident-packed event that witnessed no less than eight Full Course Yellow [FCY] periods before nightfall… But even he wasn’t able to escape unscathed, sent off-track by a rival he brought the Ligier into the pits with significant damage.
Krütten handed over to Meyrick for his first stint as the team set about using each stop to steadily repair the car, but very quickly it became clear all was not well with the Ligier. Andy struggled with straight-line speed and suffered a small spin on the back straight as he fought to counter the damage at the front and the back of the car.
Meyrick duly returned to the pits for a new nose to try to improve the car’s behaviour, and then gathered it altogether and put in a solid stint to stabilise the situation as the team continued to replace damaged parts through each stop.
An enormous multi-car accident then caused an hour-long caution, and stole much of Andy’s opportunity to recover further ground, as well as forcing him to pit again with a suspected puncture. Despite all this, Andy’s pace was enough to hand over to Gamble in fifth place.
Tom then recovered on to the class leader’s lap and climbed as high as second position before he stopped on the circuit with a fuel-pump issue just after nightfall, taking the car out of contention for good. The team retrieved the car and completed the repairs before going on to be classified sixth in class, though they and the drivers had deserved much more.
“We had fantastic pace today, and my team-mates both drove extremely well,” said Meyrick. “I think we were real contenders and thanks to United Autosports USA, we had a car more than capable of winning the race under the right circumstances. When the car was damaged in the early stages of the race, the team did an amazing job to bring the car back to working order using the time available during each stop, and it was incredible that we were able to fight back on to the lead lap.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be today, but it was an encouraging way to go into the winter knowing what we’re capable of and I’m sure we’ll bounce back stronger in 2022.”