At just 21 years old, local resident Phil Hanson has become the youngest person to win the iconic Le Mans race. He tells Adrian Day what’s driving his ambition
Phil Hanson, a 21-year old who lives just off the King’s Road, won the iconic Le Mans 24-hour endurance sportscar race in September. Although the 88th staging of the race was held behind closed doors, competition was just as intense as previous years.
Phil, who drives for United Autosport, came into the race leading both the World and European Championships in the Le Mans Prototypes 2 class. He spent between one and three hours at a time in the car – sharing the driving with two teammates.
Although 21 sounds young to score such an impressive victory, Phil has been competing in the race every year since he was 17 and was a champion on the British junior karting scene before that.
“I would never have thought I would be winning Le Mans five years after winning my British Karting Championship,” he says.
“I’d never even heard of Le Mans until I competed at a kart race there in 2014 and it was then that I realised just how iconic the race was.”
So how does it feel to make history at such a young age? “I hadn’t really thought of it like that – it’s a historically renowned event that will always be in the record books, I guess, but my ambition is to win the overall top class outright,” he says.
“I don’t have any plans to move towards Formula One or anything like that – I’m just looking to get the best drive.”
Phil has lived between the King’s Road and Ascot since he was about ten. “All my friends are here – this is my cultural area, to be honest,” he says. “I love the fact that it is very residential but has great shops and everything else you need.”
“Compared to Mayfair and places like that, it just feels more relaxed. You’ve got the Saturday market in Duke of York Square and it feels more easy going – there’s more room here.”
“There’s also an endless list of great restaurants in the area – Italians like La Famiglia, Daphne’s, La Mia Mamma, and it’s great just to be able to walk there.”
“Sometimes I’ll go to a local pub if my friends are there – but, to be honest, I don’t drink that much.”
But for now, there’s one race left in the European Le Mans Series in Portugal this month, although he has already been crowned champion for the year after his success at Monza last month. He is now the first driver to win the FIA World Endurance Championship (LMP2), European Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours (LMP2) all in the same year.