United Autosports contests the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race next Sunday (9 Feb) hoping it will be “third time lucky” for the Anglo-American team in Australia and to kick-start the team’s 2014 season in style.
The British-based team co-owned by Zak Brown (USA) and Richard Dean (GB) relies on an Audi R8 LMS ultra in the 12th running of the once-around-the-clock “enduro” aiming for outright race glory in Class A for GT3 sports cars.
The #23 Audi R8 LMS ultra is driven on the demanding 3.86-mile Mount Panorama circuit by United Autosports’ “stalwart” Mark Patterson (USA) while Eric Lux (USA) and Markus Winkelhock (D) make their UA debuts.
Patterson, beginning his sixth consecutive season with the team, races for UA for a third consecutive year at Bathurst. Mark himself has chalked up 44 individual race starts in a United Autosports’ Audi since the team made its race debut in April 2010.
2012 FIA GT1 World Champion Winkelhock is one of the most experienced and successful drivers of the Audi R8 LMS since the GT3 sports car made its racing debut in 2009. Markus is a former double Nürburgring 24 Hours race winner and recently finished second in the Daytona 24 Hours. The German is making his Bathurst debut. Lux won the American Le Mans Series LMPC category in 2011 and raced in the ALMS LMP1 class in 2012. Eric made his maiden Bathurst appearance last year.
The United Autosports Audi R8 LMS was withdrawn from the 2012 Bathurst race after suffering chassis damage. Frank Yu contacted the wall in wet and difficult conditions on “slick” treadless dry weather tires. Last year, the weather again ruined the team’s hopes of a top result. Placed seventh and with just minutes remaining, the rain worsened and caught out Brendon Hartley who had also been running on “slicks”.
The #23 Audi R8 LMS ultra is the one campaigned by 2013 British GT Championship runners-up Matt Bell and Patterson – and will be the one the duo campaign in this year’s BGT.
The Mount Panorama track is a public road for the majority of the year while a 12 Hour Race was held at Bathurst from 1991-1994 and then re-established in 2007. Ambient temperatures can range between 13-27 degrees Celsius.
- 23 Allied World / Rembrandt Charms – Audi R8 LMS
Eric Lux (USA). Age: 25. Born: Williamsville, N.Y., USA. Lives: Williamsville, N.Y., USA.
Bathurst 12Hr: 2013. Bathurst History: Only 2013 12Hr race
“My goal for every race is to win. I believe that in United Autosports’ fully developed Audi and with Mark [Patterson] and Markus [Winkelhock], we have a great chance of success.
“Bathurst marks my fourth race in an R8 LMS. I made my Bathurst debut in the 12 hour race last year. Unfortunately the DragonSpeed Audi R8 LMS contacted the barriers early on and the damage caused us multiple problems for us throughout the race.
“Mark is familiar with the R8 and had a strong season with United last year while Markus has already had a very, very impressive career and so will be a valuable asset to the line-up.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 62. Born: Port Elizabeth, S Africa. Lives: Bronxville, N.Y., USA.
Bathurst 12Hr: 2012. Bathurst History: 2012 & ’13 12Hr races
“To come away with two DNFs from one of the greatest race tracks in world hurts a lot so here’s hoping its third time lucky for me and the team. Eric [Lux] and I have never shared a seat before but have swapped paint in GRAND-AM events for years with him!
“I have a lot of respect for his speed and reliability as a driver. I’ll be meeting Markus [Winkelhock] for the first time in Bathurst but obviously I’m fully aware he comes from a family of top tier drivers while his own racing résumé is dripping with accolades.
“There are few tracks in the world that offer drivers such a kick. Racing there is always a thrill. The wonders, drama, twists and speed are sensational. The downhill kink flat in sixth is something to tell our grandkids about! And not many tracks around the world has the risk of a kangaroo crossing in front of you!”
Markus Winkelhock (GB). Age: 33. Born: Bad Cannstatt, Germany. Lives: Berglen-Steinach, Germany.
Bathurst 12Hr: Début
“It’s my first time racing at Bathurst but I’ve done a number of long-distance races including 24 hour races at Daytona, Nürburgring and Spa. I have watched some onboard laps of Bathurst while I’ll of course walk the track when I get there and I’m sure I’ll get some tips from my team-mates who both have experience of the track.
“I’ve not previously met either Eric or Mark but that’s not a problem. It’s a good driver line-up and United Autosports is a good team. I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I won’t have driven the UA Audi before practice begins but I’ve clocked up many, many miles in the Audi R8 LMS over the years.
“It’s difficult for me judge how strong we will be. As a race driver I want to win every race I contest and this is my target for Bathurst. I will give it give 100% and after 12 hours we will see where we are. In such a long race, many things can happen, but having just missed out on winning Daytona last month, I’m very eager to win in Australia.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports: “We are really excited for the Bathurst 12 Hour race this year. It’s such an amazing event and the calibre of entrants is always really high. We are thrilled to be working with Mark [Patterson] again, he always delivers great racing for us, and we are pleased to be welcoming Eric [Lux] and Markus [Winkelhock] to the team as well.
“Hopefully our luck will be a bit better than it was last year – we have a great car, team and line-up of drivers so fingers crossed for a good result.”
Photo credit: United Autosports