United Autosports Scores Third GRAND-AM Top-10 Result From Three Starts
· Blundell and Brown sweep #23 Ford-Riley to impressive ninth place on the Anglo-American duo’s DP debut at “The Glen”
Zak Brown (USA) and Mark Blundell (GB) claimed a creditable ninth place in the 10th round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 at Watkins Glen yesterday (August 13).
Brown and Blundell piloted the United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing #23 Ford-Riley to the team’s third top-10 of the season from three race starts in the “Canadian Tire 200 At the Glen”.
Brown had only previously raced once at the historic “Glen” while the 2.45-mile track in New York State was a completely new deal to Blundell.
Blundell began the two-hour race from the sixth row of the 33-car grid having achieved the 11th fastest time in the 15-minute qualifying session the previous day – a good achievement considering the Briton’s lack of track knowledge and actual running time on the tight event timetable.
He moved up to third after 33 laps before handing over to Brown who drove the mid-section of the race, Zak adapting to the Daytona Prototype in a race for the first time since January, which saw his progression continue throughout his stint.
One final stop for a driver change saw Blundell reclaim a top-10 place with the former Formula One and IndyCar ace taking the checker ninth.
Brown and Blundell, together with Martin Brundle (GB) and Mark Patterson (USA), achieved fourth place in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 29-30) while Blundell and Michael Valiante (CAN) finished sixth in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead (March 5).
United Autosports Chairman & Co-Owner Brown, who races full-time in the GT3 sports car category in Europe, and Blundell, contest the GRAND-AM finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA) next month.
Upcoming . . .
Penultimate two races of the FIA GT3 European Championship, Slovakia Ring (Slovakia) on August 20-21 . . . Rounds seven and eight of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, Rockingham (England) on September 4 . . . GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 finale at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA) on September 17 . . . penultimate round of the BGT at Donington Park (England) on September 25 . . . final round of the BGT at Silverstone (England) on October 9 . . .final two FIA GT3 European Championship races, Zandvoort (Netherlands), October 15-16 . . . Macau GT Cup (China), November 20 . . .
- 23 – Johnnie Walker / UBS / Legends of Motorsport – Riley-Ford
Qualifying: 11th Blundell, 1min 7.939secs (129.822mph). Race: 9th (-3 laps P1)
Mark Blundell (GB). Age: 45. Born: Barnet, England. Lives: Royston, England:
“We improved the balance of the car during the practice sessions in terms of entry to mid-corner but regretfully suffered understeer on exits which obviously hurt our terminal speed and lap time overall in qualifying. Our race performance was reasonable – the car was capable of a top-five but Zak and I had had a very interesting weekend. It was tough for us but we have learned a lot. We came to Watkins Glen as DP ‘rookies’ but come away with experience of the track and importantly more of the car for our next race. I am already looking forward to Mid Ohio.” Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“It was only my second time here having previously raced and won in my ‘vintage’ Porsche 962 which has bags of downforce so driving a DP here was very different. The track is short and tight and the traffic was a nightmare so I was very pleased to bring the car back in one piece for Mark to finish. Given that the series came here a month ago for a six hour race we were always going to be at a disadvantage combined with our limited knowledge of the car itself. Mark drove like the pro that he is while the MSR team did a good job. We will be more competitive at Mid Ohio because we tested there recently – I would like to think a top-five is possible.”
Mike Shank (USA), Team Owner of Michael Shank Racing:
“I’m looking forward to having Zak and Mark back again with us at Mid-Ohio. For never having previously been at this track in a DP, Zak and Mark were just getting better all weekend long. They will be even more prepared for Mid-Ohio and we are all looking forward to having a strong finish there.” (ends)