British Youngster Joins United Autosports' 2011 FIA GT3 Euro Campaign
Exciting young British sportscar prospect Joe Osborne has been snapped up by the Anglo-American United Autosports team for a full FIA GT3 European Championship campaign next year.
Osborne, aged 21, embarks on his first full GT3 season next May* after sporadic outings in British GT4 and FIA GT3 Euro this year. He will co-drive an Audi R8 LMS with Mark Patterson, the American who tied equal second with 2010 United Autosports co-driver Michael Guasch (USA) in the FIA championship's Audi Manufacturer's Cup.
Meanwhile United Autosports' Chairman & Co-Owner Zak Brown (USA) continues for a second consecutive year driving the "sister" Audi with Matthew Bell, the Briton who celebrated his 21st birthday last month (Nov 5).
Osborne won the 2004 British Junior Kart TKM Championship before moving in to single-seaters courtesy of a scholarship from Formula BMW UK but budget constraints obliged Joe to switch his attention to sports cars, winning the European GT4 Championship last year.
Joe, who was made a British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star in 2009, made his FIA GT3 European Championship debut this year, contesting three rounds and recording two top-five finishes (Silverstone & Jarama) in a Porsche 911 GT3R.
United Autosports has already announced a two-car Audi entry in the 2011 British GT Championship with Bell and Guasch linking up with Audi's former British Touring Car Championship race winner John Bintcliffe (England) co-driving with fellow Yorkshireman Jay Palmer (England). Draper Tools will be a team partner for both the FIA and BGT campaigns.
* Assumes 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship begins in May.
Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 21. Born: Bedford, England. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, England:
"I'm excited to be joining United Autosports and very much looking forward to racing the Audi R8 LMS. It was on the wrong side of the Balance of Performance calculations until the final four races this year so I'm hopeful we'll be competitive from the first race next season. I will have a pre-season testing program for the first time in my career which I'm already itching to start.
"It was my intention to race with United Autosports in 2010 but couldn't raise the funds. However, seeing them in action this season confirmed what I already knew in that it is an ultra-professional outfit. I know many of the guys from my Ginetta days over the past three years and they have the same drive and passion to win as me -- the single most critical thing.
"The European Championship is the premier GT3 series in the world and provides some of the best GT racing with so many manufacturers making it of huge interest to competitors and spectators. Racing on the very best European tracks in a series that offers 'live' television for sponsors just emphasizes the professionalism of the series."
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 58. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, N.Y., USA:
"The prospect of a second season in the European GT3 series with United Autosports thrills me. The series is loaded with good drivers, competitive teams, sexy looking race cars, a big league promotional organizer with an excellent sense of high profile marketeering [SRO] and an authoritative overseer in the form of the FIA. That's a perfect skeleton, so throw in a series of new and established rock 'n roll race tracks, there's more than enough meat on those bones to have a racing party. It's serious, it's fun and it's very competitive."
Matthew Bell (GB). Age: 20. Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England:
"2011 is shaping up to be a very busy year for me! A second consecutive full season in the European GT3 series as well as contesting the BGT will mean I am in the car a lot more often than I was this year which should help me build on my experience I gained in my first year of GT3 racing.
"I will be aiming for championship honors. Next season United Autosports and I will be a lot better prepared. I am currently doing the Formula Renault Winter Cup Series to gain as much experience as I can and that combined with a good pre-season testing schedule will be the perfect preparation for what I expect to be a very competitive and exciting 2011 campaign."
Zak Brown (USA). Driver, Chairman, Co-Owner United Autosports:
"It's great to have Joe joining us which completes what I believe will be a very competitive two-car line-up for us in the European series. Both cars have good driver combos and I'm expecting both to be fighting for podium placings. We've just finished what has been a fantastic debut year and all credit goes to Richard and the team he's built. We had a very tough start to the 2010 season but it was amazing how quickly we improved and by midyear we were leading races and routinely on the podium. Race wins are just right around the corner."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"Joe deserves this chance. I am a big fan of his after working with him when he won the 2009 European GT4 Championship. He will be a perfect 'fit' for Mark and indeed the entire team. Our FIA championship line-up for 2011 is very strong. Next season the combination of experienced, ultra-competitive second year drivers in Mark and Zak paired with two young, very quick, drivers in Joe and Matt is a perfect scenario. Our maiden 2010 was new in every way; team, cars, drivers, championship and circuits. Despite this we still managed front row and podium placings. 2011 promises to be very exciting as we will be better prepared from the green light in the opening race as well as highly motivated!"