After practice sessions and qualifying where the Audi R8 Ultra was running faultlessly, United Autosports’ luck ran out during the first pit stop of race 1 at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi, with a gear box issue meaning 1st and 2nd gears couldn’t be selected.
Up until that point, drivers Mark Patterson, Matt Bell and newcomer to the team Will Bratt had proved that they had the speed to run with the leaders.
On lap 116, the gear box finally seized during Matt Bell’s stint, and the car returned to the garage for a new gear box. The crew worked hard and had the car back on the grid for the start of race 2, albeit starting from the back.
A knock from another car caused power steering issued which required a few long stop to repair, after which everyone focused on just getting to the finish without further problems.
There were highlights though; Matt Bell was only half a second off pole position, Mark Patterson was one of the fastest Amateur drivers in the field and consistent throughout long 70 minutes stints, and Will Bratt made an impressive debut with United Autosports, looking fast, faultless and running pace with the leaders in his stints.
The team enjoyed their visit to Abu Dhabi, and will return next year for the third running of this exciting race.
Matt Bell: “Things didn't quite go our way today. We got some damage to the gearbox early in the race, which failed after 4 hours, and some other smaller problems affected us later in the race.
It was a shame as we were very competitive especially as the race went on. There are lots of positives to take from this race, the car delivered better than ever before over a qualifying lap and during the race, which bodes well for 2013.
It was good to meet and drive with Will, and Mark did a great job too, so I'm really looking forward to 2013!”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director: “ It was a tough event for us, having run trouble free for the 12 hours last year and all the free practice and QF sessions here this year, we had high hopes.
The gearbox gremlins seem to have brought a whole host of side effects when the temperatures went through the roof and subsequently made us work hard for our desire to get to the finish.
The positives were plenty through; Mark’s fighting pace over 70 minute stints, Matt’s qualifying pace to be within a half second of pole and Will’s debut showed he is a top quality driver.
The Audi Ultra will be a front running car for us in the British GT Championship in 2013.”