Thursday, October 14, 2010

United Autosports Completes 2011 British GT Championship Squad

· Former Audi Sport UK British Touring Car Championship race winner John Bintcliffe returns to regular race action with German manufacturer

· Jay Palmer teams up with fellow Yorkshireman Bintcliffe in a second United Autosports Audi R8 LMS for full British campaign

Former British Touring Car Championship race winner John Bintcliffe (GB) will return to regular race action when the ex-Audi Sport UK “tin top” ace contests the 2011 British GT Championship alongside fellow Yorkshireman Jay Palmer (GB).

Bintcliffe and Palmer join already confirmed Matthew Bell (GB) and Michael Guasch (USA) in a brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars entered by Leeds-based United Autosports in next year’s GT series. 

For Bintcliffe, it marks a return to  top-class action with the German prestige car manufacturer after three years in the BTCC racing the permanent all-wheel-drive Audi A4 quattro (1996-7) and the front-wheel-drive Audi A4 (1998) as team-mate to Frank Biela (1996-7) and Yvan Muller (1998) for Audi Sport UK.

Bintcliffe, who raced against and beat drivers like Audi’s 1996 BTCC champion Biela, Nigel Mansell, Alain Menu, Jason Plato, Rickard Rydell, Gabriele Tarquini, Derek Warwick and Joachim Winkelhock, during his three year BTCC spell, has not raced since September 1998. He joined the Audi squad after winning three consecutive one-make championships (1993 Honda CRX, 1994 Renault Clio and 1995 Ford Credit Fiesta).

Palmer, meanwhile, will be stepping up to the GT3 specification Audi R8 LMS after racing Westfield and Caterham sports cars between 2002-5. The team is planning a concerted pre-season test program in the UK which actually began yesterday (Oct 13) with Guasch driving a Ginetta at Brands Hatch and continues at Silverstone today (Oct 14) and Snetterton tomorrow (Oct 15).

Race Results Amended For Final FIA GT3 European Championship Race At Zolder

Following post-race inspections, United Autosports has been re-classified in seventh (Zak Brown/Matthew Bell) & 10th (Michael Guasch/Mark Patterson) places in the 12th and final race at Zolder (Oct 10). It means Brown/Bell were the highest placed Audi R8 LMS and marks the first time both United Autosports sports cars have finished in the top-10 in the same race.

The amended results mean United Autosports finish 11th FIA GT3 Teams Championship. In the Audi Manufacturer's Cup, Guasch/Patterson tied in the runners-up position with Bell/Brown seventh.

* The result of round 12 and championship positions remain provisional subject to the outstanding appeals, lodged by Prospeed Competition and Belgian Audi Club, being heard by the International Court of Appeal (ICA).

John Bintcliffe (GB). Age: 44. Born / Lives: Harrogate, Yorkshire, England:
“I’m delighted to be racing full time again and especially that it’s in an Audi. Contesting the British GT Championship with United Autosports as Richard [Dean] has been a friend for years and to co-drive with Jay, another long-term friend who I ran in my Westfield and Caterham teams, is the icing on the cake. I’ve never raced in the British GT category but know it’s a very professionally run and competitive series. Having driven the four-wheel-drive Audi quattro and front-wheel-drive Audi A4 in the British Touring Car Championship in the 1990s, it’ll be interesting to add the rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 LMS to my portfolio and I guess will be a somewhat unique achievement.” 
 John Bintcliffe drove the permanent four-wheel-drive Audi A4 quattro in the 1996 & ’97 British Touring Car Championship

Jay Palmer (GB). Age: 38. Born: Harrogate, Yorkshire. Lives: Harrogate & London, England:
“Competing in the British GT Championship will be a steep learning curve for me but after a pre-season test program, I’m sure I’ll be there or thereabouts – especially having John as my co-driver and the competitive package of United Autosports and the Audi R8 LMS behind me. I have only previously raced Westfield or Caterham cars but tested GT3 machinery [Ascari and Porsche]. My business commitments will now allow me to race regularly for the first time since 2005 and I’m very excited about the prospect.”

Zak Brown (USA). Driver, Chairman, Co-Owner United Autosports:
“I'm extremely pleased that United Autosports will be racing regularly in Britain next season – in many respects it remains the ‘home’ of world motorsport. I’m certain the Audi R8 LMS sports car will be ultra-competitive in the BGT and will prove to be immensely popular with British race fans. In Matt Bell and Mike Guasch, a pairing we announced earlier this month, and now John and Jay, we have two driver pairings who I’m sure will be title BGT contenders despite the series being very competitive.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“I'm excited on so many levels to have Jay and John joining our team. With our driver British GT Championship line-up already completed by October, it gives us plenty of time to prepare for next season’s campaign. Jay knows most of the BGT circuits but GT3 is a big step up for him so testing time before the 2011 test ban kicks in will be of great benefit for him

“John's return to racing an Audi in the UK will spark lots of memories for British Touring Car race fans and will generate some lively debate on just how fast he is likely to be in a GT3 sports car! I’m certain he will run at the front from the opening race of the season. Twelve years on from his ‘factory’ drive with Audi Sport UK, it’s a compliment to United Autosports he has chosen us for his racing return.”
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