· Matt Bell and Michael Guasch to spearhead American owned team’s two-car Audi R8 LMS entry
· British race fans handed prospect of an Audi team racing regularly throughout UK for first time since 1998
United Autosports made its race début when it contested the opening rounds of the 2010 British GT Championship in April
Matt Bell and Michael Guasch will contest the 2011 British GT Championship at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS for United Autosports.
Bell (GB) and Guasch (USA) are both driving for the British-based team in this year’s FIA GT3 European Championship – the final rounds of which are staged at Zolder (Bel) on Sunday (Oct 10).
The young Briton, having his first full season in [car] racing, will contest next year’s British series in addition to competing in the FIA championship again. Bell, who achieved a season best third place in the latest FIA GT3 race in Portugal recently (Sep 19), had a one-off BGT drive this summer in a United Autosports entered Ginetta G50 – winning the G4 category with his older brother Rob.
Guasch, meanwhile, will concentrate solely on the British series in 2011, the American looking forward to being “paired” for the first time with Bell and believing that the Anglo-American combination will prove to be very competitive.
United Autosports made its competition début this year when the American-owned squad contested the opening rounds of the British series at Oulton Park (Apr 5) prior to the start of the FIA GT3 championship.
It marked the first time the 5.2-liter, V10-engined Audi R8 LMS had raced in the BGT with team co-owners Zak Brown (USA) and Richard Dean (GB) achieving two fourth placings with Guasch, partnered by Mark Patterson (USA), netting fifth and eighth positions on their first-ever visit to the Oulton circuit.
United Autosports plans to run two Audi sports cars in both the British and FIA championships next year. It will mark the first time a team representing the German manufacturer has regularly raced in the UK since 1998 – the final year Audi Sport UK contested the British Touring Car Championship – with United Autosports being an “official” Audi Sport customer team.
Matthew Bell (GB). Age: 20. Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England:
“I’m delighted and excited that United Autosports is giving me the opportunity of two programs in 2011. I'll be able to take the experience of this maiden year in to the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship while I'm really looking forward to racing in the British GT Championship next year.
“The FIA series has a big variety and depth of manufacturers and a high level of competition which took me a little by surprise this year. But now that the Audi R8 LMS can run competitively since the latest Balance of Power revisions, we’re able to show not only the true potential of the car but that of United Autosports too. It’s an excellent series and I've enjoyed being part of it. Going back to venues next year that I’d never previously seen before let alone raced on, will be a massive bonus.
“I believe the progress the team has made coupled with the development of my driving partnership with Zak [Brown] should enable us to compete for the FIA GT3 title in 2011. It was a big step for me this season to go from a Ginetta G50 straight into such a powerful car but the Audi is fantastic to drive. I’ve got to know Mike [Guasch] this season and despite him too being totally new to all of the tracks in the FIA series this year, he’s been very competitive. All these factors bode well for a good year in Britain next season.”
Michael Guasch (USA). Age: 52. Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:
“Moving to BGT means I can be paired with a “gold” driver at United Autosports and have a shot at the championship title with Matt. In this year’s FIA GT3 European Championship it became clear that my co-driver Mark [Patterson] and I could run at the front of the pack of “bronze” drivers but then had a tough time with the “gold” categorized ones hence the disappointing overall finishes.
“Richard [Dean] has laid out an extensive off season testing plan to get me the needed knowledge of the BGT tracks for 2011. The first year with United Autosports has been great and I am excited to be running a second year with them. They are a top shelf professional team. After one year of running the team and drivers have gotten to know each other much better and now everything is starting to click. Adjustments in engineering, tires, and the increased overall understanding of the Audi has given us a big step forward.”
Zak Brown (USA). Driver, Chairman, Co-Owner United Autosports:
“I’m tremendously excited to see the growth of our team into the British GT Championship – 12 months since we unveiled United Autosports at Paul Ricard last October. Not only have we run a full season in the FIA GT3 European Championship, we’ve competed in the 24 Hours of Spa – finishing third and fourth in GT3 – and will run our two Audi R8 LMS sports cars in the final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in China in November all in our first year of competition which underlines our ambitious plans of taking this team forward. I’m certain the combination of Matt [Bell], who I have raced alongside all year, and Mike [Guasch], will win races in the BGT and believe the pair along with Audi will be contenders for title honors.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“I’m very much looking forward to bringing United Autosports and Audi in to the 2011 British GT Championship. With Matt [Bell] and Mike [Guasch] driving an R8 LMS I believe we have a potent force. I’m delighted to have re-signed Mike for a second consecutive season. Continuity for both the team and driver is such an important element to building success.
“His switch to BGT makes perfect sense for him taking into account budget, travel, testing opportunities and work commitments. Despite the series switch, he can build on this year’s GT experience with the Audi R8 LMS and us. I am enjoying working with Mike and seeing the progress he has made. It was very satisfying to see him the fastest driver on track in the closing stages of the latest FIA race in the Algarve and having achieved a top-6 qualifying position the previous day.
“Teaming Mike with Matt in BGT is perfect for many reasons. Matt can build on his successful first full year in racing [cars] and have a two pronged championship season in 2011. He needs race experience and is improving with every race. An FIA GT3 podium last time out in Portugal, after only a handful of races, is a sign of something special. Two series next year will develop him further. It will be exciting to monitor his development and for us [United Autosports] to be part of it.”
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