· Paul Ricard would be a fitting venue for team’s first FIA points
Eight months after United Autosports’ co-owners Zak Brown and Richard Dean unveiled their ambitious FIA GT3 European Championship dream at the Paul Ricard HTTT facility, the American-owned outfit heads for Southern France aiming to prove a point.
The 3.63-mile ultra high-speed circuit hosts rounds seven and eight of this year’s series, a venue where Brown and Dean announced their intention to form a team last October, completely new to the championship, and run a brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars – having previously had no links with the German manufacturer.
But having posted its best qualifying and race results, ninth and 11th respectively, in the previous races at Jarama (Spain) earlier this month (June 19-20), United Autosports justifiably believes it can record its first-ever points by claiming top-10 positions in the two, one-hour races.
With the team’s regular driver coach, Danny Watts, unavailable, United Autosports has recruited reigning Le Mans Series LM P2 champion Olivier Pla, of France, to help its drivers who have no prior experience of Paul Ricard. The team will test at Nogaro (France) on June 29 prior to arriving at Ricard which is located 30km east of Toulon.
Friday July 2
12:10-13:10 Free practice 1; 17.10-18.10 Free practice 2
Saturday July 3
09:00-09:50 Qualifying; 14:45-15:45 Race 1
Sunday July 4
11:15-12:15 Race 2
(all times are local)
#22 Molecule / Cerutti – Audi R8 LMS
Michael Guasch (USA). Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:
“I am very excited to race at Paul Ricard, a very fast track, and it will be interesting to see how everyone drives with all of the run-off available. We test before the race at Nogaro when we should learn some more about the Audi allowing us some more much needed seat time in the R8 LMS. I’m expecting us to be able to better our Jarama results and hopefully achieve top-10 placings.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
“It’s another track known by all four drivers via YouTube videos only. Learning these new, challenging and wonderful European tracks is one the reasons we all signed up. With the Audi R8 LMS now back up to full power (8,500rpm), we were able to demonstrate our competitiveness in the last races and we're now kicking up against the points ‘door’.”
#23 Remington – Audi R8 LMS
Zak Brown (USA). Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“I'm really looking forward to the Paul Ricard races. The United Autosports team is really gelling and head for Southern France coming off our most competitive races so far in the FIA GT3 European Championship. We will continue to get stronger and stronger as the season progresses.”
Matthew Bell (GB). Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England:
“Another new circuit to learn but longer in length than Jarama – hopefully there won't be the same dramas that we encountered in Spain which led to us losing so much track time in testing. Jarama highlighted the importance of track knowledge, so we need to get as much running as possible in order to get to grips with the circuit. We’re getting closer to the pace but need to score points now. With all the progress the team has made I'm hoping Paul Ricard will finally be the place we do it.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“It’s nice to visit another famous circuit with the necessary investment to turn it in to a world class standard! I think the team has come together quickly and has a feel about it that is right now. I am very confident we are going to see some results as a reward for the hard work. The drivers have all been fantastically positive and are making a significant contribution to the progress and development. The only problem we have is the gaps between races are too big.”
Audi R8 LMS (Sportscar according to latest 2010 FIA GT3 regulations)
V10 5.2-liter engine, 4 valves per cylinder, petrol direct injection, emission control by two racing catalytic converters, rear-wheel-drive, traction control (ASR), sequential pneumatic activated 6-speed sport gearbox with shift-paddles, Audi Space Frame (ASF) made of aluminum with bolted steel roll-cage, carbon-fiber composite/aluminum bodywork, Michelin radial tires. Approx 500 hp (reduced power). Start weight 1,320kg. Limitation at 8500rpm for every gear. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH. Won FIA GT3 European Championship, ADAC-GT Masters and Belgian GT Championship plus Nürburgring 24 Hours and Spa 24 Hours class victories in début 2009 season scoring a total 23 victories.
* More United Autosports Editorial Copyright Free photographs are available at www.flickr.com/unitedautosports