EU3: United Autosports Silverstone preview

United Autosports will chalk up numerous "firsts" when the American owned, British-based team contests the opening two rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone (May 1-2) -- a theme the Audi Official "customer" outfit hopes to ...

United Autosports will chalk up numerous "firsts" when the American owned, British-based team contests the opening two rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone (May 1-2) -- a theme the Audi Official "customer" outfit hopes to continue over the weekend.

Drivers Matthew Bell, Zak Brown, Michael Guasch and Mark Patterson will all be making their FIA series debut; Bell will be making his United Autosports debut and racing an Audi R8 LMS sportscar for the first time; Guasch and Patterson will be racing at the famous English venue for the first time with all four drivers debuting on the revised 3.67-mile "new" Arena Grand Prix configuration -- to be officially opened by HRH The Duke of York on Thursday (April 29); while of course United Autosports will be making its debut in the 12-race, six venue FIA series -- a championship won by an Audi R8 LMS last year in its debut season.

After tests in Portugal, England plus France and having achieved top results in a one-off British GT Championship appearance over the past eight weeks since taking delivery of its brace of Audi R8 LMS sportscars from the German manufacturer, the serious business in terms of achieving FIA success now begins in earnest.

The Silverstone entry list features 33 entries from 17 teams, with 10 different cars on this year's grid including Aston Martin DBRS9, BMW Z4 and Alpina B6, Corvette Z06R, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Ford GT, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911.

Two drivers share each car and must switch over during pit-stops between 23mins and 37mins into each 60mins race. The FIA GT3 European Championship is adopting the new Formula One style points where the top-10 cars and drivers are awarded points from 25 for a win down to 1pt for 10th place. Both of the two 60-minute races score full points so the maximum a driver and team can score from a weekend is 50 points. Success ballast is also added to the top-three cars at the next meeting, with 20kg for a win, 15kg for 2nd and 10kg for 3rd.

Two one-hour practice sessions (12-1pm & 5-6pm) on Friday precedes a 50mins qualifying session on Saturday morning (9-9.50am) prior to Round One (2.15pm) and then a second one-hour race on Sunday (12.15pm*). * All times quoted British Summer Time (BST). The FIA GT3 European Championship can be viewed "live" on television across Europe on Motors TV and Bloomberg television, with all the races streamed "live" on www.gt3europe.com

Meanwhile United Autosports was "formally launched" at West London Audi this evening (Apr 27). Over 200 guests were in attendance at the lavish Audi Centre in England, the largest in the world, including Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration.

#22 Molecule / Cerutti -- Audi R8 LMS

Michael Guasch (USA). Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:

"My aim is a top-10 finish. We're new to the series and the tracks, and to the Audi R8 LMS for that matter. So long as we can score points in both races that would be an ideal way to start the season. After Silverstone, as we become more familiar with the R8 LMS, we will gain momentum and overall position throughout the year. I'm looking forward to racing at Silverstone. This will be the second Formula 1 venue I have raced on, the other being Montreal in Canada. I think the new changes to the track should level the playing field a little between us and those who have plenty of Silverstone experience. I think we'll be competitive but it won't be easy -- we'll just have to bring our best game to the track."

Mark Patterson (USA). Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:

"Although Silverstone will be our first FIA GT3 race together, I'll be shooting for the podium -- this has be our first objective -- but as a season opener, scoring good points is absolutely critical. We came close at Oulton Park in the British GT series against some 'golden' competition but of course this is now FIA series competition. No one driver or single team has an advantage as we'll be racing on a 'new' configuration of track at Silverstone which hopefully will be a nice leveler for us. We tested on Silverstone's 'old' Grand Prix circuit last month and that was successful with all of us getting down to competitive lap times despite our lack of track knowledge."

#23 Remington -- Audi R8 LMS

Zak Brown (USA). Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:

"For United Autosports to be making its FIA Championship race debut in England, the country where our team's raceshop is based, and specifically at Silverstone, with its worldwide history and considered the 'home' of British motor racing, is awesome. Finishing near the front would be incredible but realistically I'd be very pleased and satisfied if our cars were placed in the top-10 in both races. Our FIA team was only formed a couple of months ago and has worked very, very hard since getting the cars from Audi -- it would be fantastic if these guys could be rewarded with good results."

Matthew Bell (GB). Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England:

"My aim is to do the best job that I can at Silverstone on my race debut for United Autosports and driving the Audi R8 LMS. After just two tests, I'm on a steep learning curve -- as is the team of course with the new Audi. I think if we keep our focus on doing a good job I'm confident the rewards will come. I'm really looking forward to racing at Silverstone. We'll be entering into a new chapter of Silverstone history by racing on the new Grand Prix configuration. I'm looking forward to partnering Zak for the first time who did a great job at Oulton Park. It should be a great weekend."

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:

"The opening rounds of the FIA series at Silverstone have come around very quickly! We are looking forward to finally finding out about the opposition and where we will be competitively compared to our rivals. United Autosports made its race debut in the opening rounds of the British GT Championship over Easter. Those 'warm-up' races were a valuable experience in preparation for the FIA GT3 European Championship which is our main focus in the team's first year of competition. We have tested intensively since getting our 2010 specification R8 LMS GT3 cars. Personally I can't wait to see our two cars on the Silverstone grid!"

Audi R8 LMS (Sportscar according to 2010 FIA GT3 regulations)

V10 5.2-liter engine, 4 valves per cylinder, petrol direct injection, emission control by two racing catalytic converters, rear-wheel-drive, traction control (ASR), sequential pneumatic activated 6-speed sport gearbox with shift-paddles, Audi Space Frame (ASF) made of aluminum with bolted steel roll-cage, carbon-fiber composite/aluminum bodywork, Michelin radial tires. Weight 1,320kg. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH. Won FIA GT3 European Championship, ADAC-GT Masters and Belgian GT Championship plus Nurburgring 24 Hours and Spa 24 Hours class victories in debut 2009 season scoring a total 23 victories.

-source: unitedautosports.com

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Mark Patterson , Richard Dean , Bernie Ecclestone , Matthew Bell , Zak Brown