Team Co-Owners Brown & Dean encouraged by series debut performance Drivers gain valuable experience in dry, damp and wet conditions United Autosports achieved top-20 placings with both of its Audi R8 LMS sportscars in the opening two rounds of...
Team Co-Owners Brown & Dean encouraged by series debut performance
Drivers gain valuable experience in dry, damp and wet conditions
United Autosports achieved top-20 placings with both of its Audi R8 LMS sportscars in the opening two rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone in England this weekend (May 1-2).
The #23 Zak Brown/Matthew Bell Audi achieved 16th and 15th positions while the similar #22 R8 LMS of Mark Patterson/Michael Guasch placed 20th and 14th in the one-hour races staged on the new 3.67-mile "Arena" Grand Prix circuit.
Race 1 (Saturday)
Qualifying: 20th #23 Brown, 2m 9.120s; 25th #22 Patterson, 2m 10.564s.
Weather: Overcast, damp/drying.
Race Result: 16th (#23) +65.404 P1; 20th (#22) -1 lap P1.
Weather: Overcast, cloudy.
On Saturday morning Brown, on provisional "pole" in damp conditions, and Patterson ultimately qualified 20th and 25th, the track continually drying with the 29-car field all on dry weather, "slick" tires. Staged in warm but overcast conditions later that day, both United Autosports sports cars immediately gained places in the early stages with Brown up to 15th place, pitting at mid-distance in eighth in the middle of the hectic pit-stop phase with Patterson in one lap later in ninth. Having resumed 17th and 22nd respectively Bell, enjoying his maiden race for United Autosports, and Guasch ultimately took the checkered flag placed 16th and 20th.
Race 2 (Sunday)
Qualifying (Sat): 21st #23 Bell, 2m 6.697s; 28th #22 Guasch, 2m 9.487s.
Weather: Overcast, dry.
Race Result: 14th (#22) -1 lap P1; 15th (#23) -1 lap P1.
Weather: Overcast, wet/damp/dry track.
Early morning heavy rain disappeared leaving the track damp but with wet patches although drying fast courtesy of a cold breeze as the race began with the entire field on "slicks". Fifteen minutes in to the race Bell was setting top-10 times and was the quickest Audi R8 LMS, while Guasch steadily improved his lap times.
Bell spun harmlessly on the 12th lap (25mins into race) and pitted for his compulsory pit-stop from 19th place five minutes later, co-driver Brown immediately having to serve a drive-thru penalty after Bell had made an on-track infringement entering the pit-lane.
Guasch pitted moments later placed 17th but co-driver Patterson was then also obliged to serve a drive-thru after Michael too was penalized by race officials for the same pit-lane entrance indiscretion. With 15mins to run, Brown and Patterson had recovered to 20th and 21st places respectively before Brown was required to make a second drive-thru in the #23 Audi after he himself had been adjudged to have run over the pit-lane entry line for the initial penalty. Patterson reveled in the closing stages, setting consecutive "personal fastest laps" and took the checkered flag an impressive 14th -- one place ahead of Brown.
#22 Molecule / Cerutti -- Audi R8 LMS
Michael Guasch (USA). Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:
"All was good early on in Race One but the tires dropped away in the closing stages affecting the handling. I never felt completely comfortable which was also frustrating because I couldn't get into any kind of rhythm. I was a little tentative at the start of Race Two due to the conditions but in general I had a good, clean race which is pleasing. I'm used to single-seaters back in the US and I just need more 'seat' time in the Audi to get accustomed to GT racing but with every lap I'm learning."
Mark Patterson (USA). Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
"Despite starting from near the back in the opening race, I stayed calm and was quickly able to set a number of laps close to my qualifying time. I'm learning about the Audi all the time -- like all of us, I just need more time in the car. Race Two was fabulous fun! Michael [Guasch] handed me a good car with the tires in great condition which allowed be to set times comparable to the leaders in the closing stages and gain places right up to the finish with the Audi holding up beautifully."
#23 Remington -- Audi R8 LMS
Zak Brown (USA). Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
"In both races our car was good. Conditions were very changeable on Sunday but that's one of the joys of competing in Europe while there were so many penalties being handed out I felt as if I was back in school! I was pleased with my own performance with good pace. Overall I'm delighted with the team and the race strategy led by United Autosports partner John Della Penna. We've achieved top-15 places with both cars today [Sunday] and we'll be shooting for higher next time out. The first FIA GT3 race meet was always going to be tough as we become more settled but I'm real happy the way the team is gelling."
Matthew Bell (GB). Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire,
"It was a steady if lonely stint after taking over from Zak in the first race but I was happy with my performance. I stayed focused and set consistent lap times despite being on my own on the track for much of the time. Track conditions for Race Two were difficult with the damp/wet/dry patches. Once past a Lamborghini, I was setting good times, comparable with the leaders. Four laps before my pit-stop the grip dropped off as the track conditions changed catching me out and I spun which I'm personally disappointed about. Then I was penalized for crossing the pit road blend line."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"We will take a lot of positives away from the weekend. The drivers learnt a tremendous amount in varying and difficult conditions and are becoming a lot more consistent in the car. As a team we must, and will, improve on various elements including driver change pit-stops but had we qualified nearer the front, we'd have been pushing for top-10 finishes in both races. Saturday's race was only Matthew's third driving a race car on slicks and his first in the Audi but was setting the same times two-thirds in to the race as the leaders. Zak matched his qualifying times in Race One and drove a superb consistent stint. Mark got his head down well while Michael, despite him not feeling 100% comfortable as the tires lost grip, did a workmanlike job too. But crucially we were quicker as the race went on and that applied to Sunday's race which is a tribute to our drivers as the conditions were changing and tricky to deal with. I think we were closer in hitting a good set-up for Race Two which allowed us to reduce the time difference to the more experienced Audi teams. So all in all, considering the drivers' lack of experience of driving a GT3 car, an Audi R8 LMS, and Silverstone, I have to be satisfied."
-source: united autosports