5 minutes with Le Mans winner Phil Hanson
PUBLISHED: 11:06 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:10 22 September 2020
The young record-breaking endurance racing driver and lifelong Sunningdale resident won Le Mans for the LMP2 series
Tell me about where you live in Berkshire
I live in Sunningdale, which is where I’ve grown up. It’s the perfect place to live at the moment, with Heathrow only 15 minutes away, which makes life much easier when I’m travelling nearly every other week. It’s just me and my dad currently as my sister lives out in Los Angeles.
Best bits about the Royal county? Any favourite memories of your childhood growing up here?
The space and being able to spend the afternoons after school outside in a garden are the most memorable. We also live near Windsor Great Park so I’ve been able to enjoy many happy weekends exploring there as well.
When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a racing driver?
I aspired to become a racing driver when I was still racing go-karts at the age of 14–15. When I was 17–18 and racing cars, I was forced to choose between following a traditional route of going to university or persuing my sporting dream. I haven’t looked back since.
Who inspires you?
Tell us about your racing career up until now and some of the highlights
Racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 17 years old was a highlight. It was incredible being part of such a famous race. Another was winning my first race in the World Endurance Championship in Bahrain last year.
And then on 19-20 September, you won Le Mans for the LMP2 series - congratulations!
Literally a dream that came true. It’s still crazy to think yesterday I won Le Mans.
Phil came into the race leading both the World and European championships in LMP2 in #22 Oreca 07 with teammates Filipe Albuquerque and Paul Di Resta and they were eager to remain at the top of the victory board. How were you feeling before the race?
I was a bit apprehensive about it all. It’s always more nerveracking when you’re heading into the later stages leading as you feel there is more to lose than there is to gain.
In the car anywhere between just over an hour to three hours at a time for this intense endurance test, the trio shared the driving close to a third each and pulled out the coveted win on race day and his team United Autosports won the entire race for the LMP2 series.
The highly anticipated 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans had been postponed for three months due to the global health crisis. While held behind closed doors and significantly condensed this year, the prestigious competition was just as intense. What are your thoughts on how the pandemic has affected the sport?
I think every industry has been hit by Covid-19. Racing hasn’t seen as much disruption as it could have because the seasons had already started and just went into a long break. I think we will be feeling the effects next year.
What is your motto in life?
Hard work pays off.
So what’s next? What are your goals for the future?
To win the World Championship in November.