- Bell & Guasch score fantastic double podium results for Anglo-American team to earn themselves joint third in championship standings
- Great team work allows #24 Audi to start Race Two for Bintcliffe & Palmer to record hard-earned 11th place after multi-year lay off from racing
|Michael Guasch (left) and Matt Bell scored a “double” podium in the opening two rounds of the British GT Championship today|
Matt Bell and Michael Guasch got their Avon Tyres British GT Championship title aspirations off to a flying start when the duo scored United Autosports’ best-ever race result in the opening race at Oulton Park (England) today (Monday April 25).
The #23 Molecule Audi R8 LMS of Bell and Guasch, partnering together for the first time, finished second in the opening round of the BGT series before placing third in Race Two which puts them joint third in the championship standings – just four-points off the series lead.
Easter Monday began in a frustrating manner for the “sister” United Autosports #24 Teknavo Audi of John Bintcliffe/Jay Palmer at the picturesque 2.692-mile “International” circuit. A likely top-10 placing in Race One was lost when Bintcliffe, having been edged on to the grass by a backmarker, hit the barriers.
But superb team work saw the Audi repaired for the second race in which Bintcliffe and Palmer recorded a praiseworthy 11th – both drivers having their first competitive races for over six years.
Race 1 (duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 4th #23 Guasch, 1m 39.883s; 9th #24 Palmer, 1m 41.290s. Weather: Dry, cloudy.Race Result: 2nd (#23) +1.528s P1; Retired (#24), -17 laps. Weather: Dry, sunny.
Guasch started from fourth on the 26-car and spent the opening 15-laps hounding the third-placed #22 Mercedes before the American dived into the lead past the 2009 BGT champions during the pit-stop phase and in to the race lead. Co-driver Bell took over 30mins into the race, resuming second, 6.7secs behind the leading #1 Porsche.
Bell, setting a string of quick laps, repeatedly brought the gap down and ultimately took the checker a mere 1.528secs behind the 2010 BGT winning Porsche 997 after 36-laps.
Palmer drove solidly from ninth on the grid in the #24 R8 LMS, matching his qualifying time during his 25mins stint, and handed over to Bintcliffe placed ninth. However the former Audi Sport UK British Touring Car Championship race winner was edged wide by a backmarker out of 12th place and into retirement after contact with the barriers.
Race 2 (duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 3rd #23 Bell, 1m 37.562s; 10th #24 Bintcliffe, 1m 39.032s. Weather: Dry, cloudy.Race Result: 3rd (#23) +30.411s P1; 11th (#24) -1 lap P1. Weather: Dry, sunny.
Bell and Bintcliffe started from third and 10th places respectively – the latter’s Audi making the grid after a fine effort by the United Autosports crew in the three-hour interval. However the Safety Car was deployed for 10mins after an incident on the opening lap with the #23 and #24 Audi sportscars placed fourth and ninth respectively.
Another Safety Car period 19mins into the race brought the field together again, the two UA cars placed fourth and eighth as compulsory pit-stops began. The #23 Audi pitted with Guasch resuming 20th – an additional 10secs “success” penalty imposed for finishing second in Race One – while Bintcliffe handed over his Audi to Palmer who returned to the race in 17th – Bintcliffe having led for two laps when the race re-started.
With 20mins remaining, Guasch was up to seventh, 30secs off the lead with Palmer 16th but the American charged through to a fine third place with three minutes remaining, Jay creditably taking 11th place at the finish.
Upcoming . . .The next round of the British series is a two-hour race staged at Snetterton, Norfolk (England) on May 15. However United Autosports begins its quest for FIA GT3 European Championship honors at the Autodrómo Internacional do Algarve circuit near Portimão (POR) on May 7-8.
#23 Molecule – Audi R8 LMS
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, T&W. Lives: Barningham, N. Yorks, England:“The #22 Merc that Mike had spent Race One dicing with exited the pits just behind me. I got my head down and pulled away, quickly reducing the gap to the lead Porsche. My tires were good in the second half of the race and perhaps with a few more laps, may have seen me challenging for the lead. I struggled initially to get sufficient heat into the tires in Race Two but was part of a three-car dice for second place before I pitted under yellows. Although we’ve achieved second and third places, we’re a little disappointed which shows what we are aiming for in 2011.”
Michael Guasch (USA). Age: 53. Born: Palo Alto, California. Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:“I started the opening race from fourth after a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday. I just couldn’t find a way past the #22 Merc – he made it as wide as a boat. My tires seemed better than his just before our pit-stops and I stuck it past him at Knickerbrook. Our pit-stop was a little late in the second race but I just put my head down, focused and pushed real hard. The Audi was awesome today and I’m delighted with our points haul from here. ”
#24 Teknavo – Audi R8 LMS
John Bintcliffe (GB). Age: 45. Born: Bridlington, E. Yorks. Lives: Harrogate, N. Yorkshire, England:“Jay did a very good job in Race One, holding station and I was looking forward to putting in a strong performance during the latter stages when we believed our car would come to us. I’d never previously done a race featuring a driver change or taken over a racecar from another driver before and the first couple of laps were a real eye-opener in just how different the Audi felt from practice and qualifying. While trying to get back ahead of a Ferrari, we both caught a backmarker who I don’t think saw me following the Ferrari closely. I tried to give the Ginetta room by putting two wheels on the grass, got airborne, but hit the barriers. The team did a great job in getting the car repaired for the second race but understandably it wasn’t 100% right. There was some confusion about when to pit otherwise I believe we could have achieved a top-six result.”
Jay Palmer (GB). Age: 38. Born: Harrogate. Lives: Harrogate & London, England / Barbados:“I held position at the start of the opening race and ran comfortably inside the top-10 which was very pleasing considering I’ve not raced for a number of years and ran a steady stint in ninth place. In race two, our race was compromised due to the pit-stops occurring during the Safety Car period. We’ve all learned a lot and can move forward for future races which I’m eagerly looking forward to.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:“Mike [Guasch] lost vital time behind the Mercedes in the opening race – although he was faster. Oulton is such a tight and narrow track, it’s relatively easy to defend. Mike did get past the Merc but it was too late and while the pit-stop was perfect and Matt drove a very strong race, he just came up short against a very, very good driver in Richard Westbrook, a former Porsche and current Corvette ‘factory’ driver. Jay [Palmer] has had minimal testing in the Audi and produced a very good performance – in both qualifying and the race. Unfortunately John [Bintcliffe] who, like Jay, has been away from racing for a number of years and lacks mileage in the Audi, ran wide on to the grass and unfortunately paid the price. Mike deservedly picked up the Sunoco Driver of the weekend Award – for his two drives – which my fellow United Autosports co-owner Zak Brown collected here at Oulton 12 months ago at our first race meeting. He drove superbly all day ably backed up by Matt while Jay and John did very well to finish just outside of the top-10 with an ill-handling Audi. We’ve laid the foundations for a good maiden season in BGT with two podiums.”
United AutosportsCreated in 2009, United Autosports is co-owned by American Zak Brown and Briton Richard Dean, both successful entrepreneurs and international race car drivers. The unique Anglo-American racing team fields GT3 class Audi R8 LMS sports cars from its United Kingdom headquarters in Leeds. It also races a fleet of “Legends of Motorsports” historic racing cars from its US facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2011, the team competes in full-seasons of FIA GT3 European Championship, Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the “Legends of Motorsports” series. It will additionally contest selected GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series events, the 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium) and Macau GT Cup race (China).
Audi R8 LMSV10 5.2-liter engine, 4 valves per cylinder, petrol direct injection, 365-412 kW (496-560 PS), 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, Avon radial tires. Start weight 1,300kg. Limitation at 8,500rpm for every gear. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH. Won seven championships across Europe in 2009-2010 plus Spa 24 Hours class victory in début 2009 season and Nürburgring 24 Hours class victories in 2009-2010 and scoring a total 64 victories.
* Bell, Bintcliffe, Guasch & Palmer biographies plus team & car profiles are available on the United Autosports website http://www.unitedautosports.com/
* A comprehensive library of Editorial Copyright Free photographs can be downloaded at www.flickr.com/unitedautosports/sets
For further information, please contact:Martyn Pass
Audi UK Sport Press
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