· 1988 Daytona race winner Martin Brundle sets ninth fastest time in qualifying
· Foundations laid for a successful “home” race début for American team
The United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing entry starts the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona in Florida (USA) tomorrow (Saturday January 29, 3.30pm local) from the fifth row of the 49-car grid.
Martin Brundle (GB) commendably set the ninth fastest time in the solitary 15mins qualifying session on Thursday afternoon, stopping the clock at 1min 40.784secs, an average speed of 127.163mph around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn course utilizing sections of the recently re-paved Daytona International Speedway “oval” plus infield section.
Brundle, along with co-drivers Mark Blundell (GB), Zak Brown (USA) and Mark Patterson (USA) have spent the last two days fine tuning their Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype during the four practice sessions the quartet participated in with the aim of marking American-owned United Autosports’ maiden race on “home soil” a successful one.
The team installed a new engine and various other components, as scheduled, overnight in preparation for the race which ran a distance of almost 2,700-miles last year and at an average speed of over 110mph.
Sponsorship for United Autosports’ maiden North American foray, the opening round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, includes Johnnie Walker, UBS, Legends of Motorsports, Just Marketing International, GAC Logistics, Thunderhead, FXI and Luke’s Joint.
Mark Blundell (GB). Age: 44. Born: Barnet, England. Lives: Royston, England.
Daytona History: None. Daytona 24Hr: Début. Other 24Hr races: Le Mans, France (1989, 1990, 1992/1st, 1995/4th, 2001, 2002, 2003/2nd); Spa, Belgium (2010/3rd in class).
“Overall we’re all happy considering our level of experience with the DP car. Progress has been good over the past couple of days covering off everything we needed to. Martin did a great job in qualifying. Night running went well on Thursday evening. We’ve made our scheduled engine change overnight in readiness for the race and missed this morning’s session just finishing off our final preparations. We’ll scrub in our tires in the last session today. I can feel the pressure building.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA.
Daytona History: Four 24Hr races. Daytona 24Hr: Début 1997. Number of Daytona 24Hr race appearances: 4. 1997/8th o/a, 2nd GTS, 1999, 2000 (GT), 2010 33rd/20th (GT). Other 24Hr races: BritCar, Silverstone, GB (2nd o/a, 1st in class); Spa, Belgium (2010/3rd in class).
“I’m pleased with the way the week has gone so far. Martin and the team did a great job in qualifying. The practice sessions over the last two days have shown we should have good race pace which could put us in contention for a podium but whatever, it’ll be a 24 hour sprint race involving around 15 DPs! We just need to do our job and keep the car in one piece. We have a stellar driver line-up but that applies to the entire field. The weather forecast looks good but the track action will definitely be hot. I’m very excited about United Autosports contesting its first ‘home’ race in the States having last year raced throughout Europe and in Asia in our maiden season.”
Martin Brundle (GB). Age: 51. Born: King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England. Lives: Gayton, Norfolk, England.
Daytona History: Two 24Hr races. Daytona 24Hr: Début 1988. Number of Daytona 24Hr race appearances: 2. 1988: 1st (Jaguar XJR-9); 1990: 2nd (Jaguar XJR-12); Last raced at Daytona 1990. Other 24Hr races: Le Mans, France (1987, 1988, 1990/1st, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001; Spa, Belgium (1983, 1984); Willhire, Snetterton, GB (1980/1st in class).
“I was pleased and very satisfied with my qualifying performance. We’d targeted a top-10 place and I was P9, less than seven tenths of a second off ‘pole’. The top-10 is very close and there is more time to come from the car and myself. The guys ahead of me are all regularly competing – either in GRAND-AM, other sportscar categories or IndyCar so I have to be happy. I’m still a little rusty and that was my first ever qualifying run in a DP. I’m very excited about the race. Our car is working very well in race trim and is especially good under braking – we’re right on the pace. We’ve set the car up as a ‘raceable’ car.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, N.Y., USA.
Daytona History: Seven 24Hr races. Daytona 24Hr: Début 2004. Number of Daytona 24Hr race appearances: 7. (2004 38th/13th SGS, 2005 23rd/14th (DP), 2006/2nd (DP), 2007/9th (DP), 2008/6th (DP), 2009 41st/16th (DP), 2010/7th (DP). Other 24Hr races: Spa, Belgium (2009 17th o/a, 2010/4th in class).
“The race build-up has been good with the team completely gelling. We’ve been out in daylight and for night practice. All four drivers are comfortable and relaxed in all conditions. We’ve got ourselves a very stable and ‘drivable’ car and I’m very optimistic we can achieve a good result come Sunday afternoon. The first time I came here to Daytona I didn’t really understand the ‘power’ of the Rolex 24 but I think I’m pretty much up to speed with it now as I prepare for my eighth Rolex!”
Mike Shank (USA), Team Owner of Michael Shank Racing:
“I’m very happy with the way the United Autosports association has worked out. It’s a great example the way a partnership can work. The field is very, very tight, but the #23 Riley-Ford has been on the pace and improved its times throughout while Martin qualified superbly. Dale has done a great job engineering the car.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“We’ve consistently improved our times as the days have progressed which is very encouraging and I believe our race pace will be the same. Qualifying in the top-10 has been a great performance considering the experience, or rather lack of it, that both Mark [Blundell] and Martin, and Zak for that matter who is racing a DP for the first time, have of this type of car combined with the limited amount of time they’ve had behind the wheel. When we came here for the test at the beginning of the month, we were 2-3secs off the pace to begin with but finished up a little over a second off the fastest time. Here we are after qualifying less than seven tenths of a second away. The race should be good.”
Rolex 24 At Daytona Television Coverage:
Saturday, Jan. 22: (F/X) Grand Am: 24 Hours at Daytona Preview 11pm.
Sunday, Jan. 23: (SPEED) Grand Am: 24 Hours at Daytona Preview 8pm.
Saturday, Jan. 29: (SPEED) Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (The Start) 3-10pm. (Live)
Saturday, Jan. 29: (Eurosport 2) Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (The Start) 8.30pm (UK time)
Saturday, Jan. 29: (Eurosport 2) Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 10.15pm (UK time)
Sunday, Jan. 30: (SPEED) Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (The Finish) 9am-4pm (Live)
Sunday, Jan 30: (Eurosport 2) Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (The Finish) 6.45pm (UK time).
Rolex 24 At Daytona Live timing:
Practice, Qualifying & Race at: http://www.grand-am.com/
Roush-Yates prepared V8 Ford 5 liter modular engine, 4 cam, 4 valve, producing over 500hp. Rear-wheel-drive. Continental Tires. Weight: 2275lbs; 5 gears, paddle-shift gearbox. The Riley Technologies MK XXII is the most successful Daytona Prototype of all time.
Co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, the US-owned, UK-based team was formed in 2010 and contested the FIA GT3 European Championship with a brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars. Also competed in 24 Hours of Spa (finishing third & fourth in GT3 class on team’s 24 race début), Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Zhuhai, China (third in GTC) and Macau (third GT Cup). Competes in the 2011 FIA GT3 European and Avon Tyres British GT Championships plus 24 Hours of Spa and Macau.
Michael Shank Racing
Since moving full-time to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, Pataskala, Ohio-based Michael Shank Racing has taken three overall wins and 19 podium results, including second overall in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as monopolizing the front row for the 2008 Rolex 24.
* Comprehensive Blundell, Brown, Brundle and Patterson biographies plus team profiles on United Autosports and Michael Shank Racing are available to download from the United Autosports website at www.unitedautosports.com/pdf/daytona_presskit.pdf.
* Editorial Copyright free photographs from the test, practice & qualifying are available on www.flickr.com/unitedautosports.
* Post “Roar Before 24”, race previews and post qualifying driver interviews (.MP3 format) can be downloaded from www.unitedautosports.com/press.cfm while post Race interviews will be available on Sunday evening.
* Television footage downloads: For information on content, contact Jillian Brooks, NASCAR Media Group 704-726-8625 or email@example.com For information on use, contact Helen Pardee, GRAND-AM Road Racing (386) 682-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org For technical assistance or information during the feed: 877-842-9288 Pin# 644158
Saturday, January 29 5-5.30pm & 9.30-10pm (EST)
Sunday, January 30 5:00-5:30pm (EST)
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