Cottingham makes debut in World Endurance Championship

The opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship took place at the weekend in the arid desert of Qatar. The 1812km event saw EDGE driver James Cottingham on the grid with the #59 United Autosports-run McLaren 720S GT3 Evo, as the journey to the 24 Hours of Le Mans truly commenced.

After promising early pace during the season prologue at the Lusail International Circuit, James took on his first ever WEC qualifying session, and promptly delivered. After an impressive lap in the opening session, he earned a place in the first ever hyperpole shootout for the top-10 cars. From here, he steered the #59 DK Engineering-backed McLaren to P7 on the grid.

For the race start the team opted for silver graded driver Nicolas Costa to take the wheel. However, contact on the opening lap for Nicolas was a cruel blow to the chances of a strong result. A return to the garage saw the United Autosports crew work quickly to get the black and orange McLaren back out on track, but several laps were lost before they headed back out.

From this point on, James and his teammates Gregoire Saucy and Nicolas Costa delivered strong and competitive laptimes, as they battled on to the flag, finishing P14. Although not the result the team was hoping for, the event allowed the driver trio to gain significant and important experience of world-class, multi-category competition.

Talking after his FIA WEC debut weekend, James Cottingham explained: “The whole week has been amazing from start to finish. Arriving in this paddock … in this series, with all these amazing people around us … Kubica, Schumacher, Button. I’ve had some real pinch me moments. United Autosports and McLaren have done a great job, coming from zero to where we are now in a matter of only months. Sadly, the lap one incident was unavoidable for Nicolas – that was really unfortunate. But the three of us have had a solid week working together and there’s plenty more to come. I can’t wait to get to Imola, I wish it was next weekend!”

Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship sees the grid head to Europe. The 6 Hours of Imola takes place over the weekend, 19-21 April, 2024.