Sunday, May 8, 2011

United Autosports Opens Points Tally In Portugal While Also Enduring Frustration On Algarve Return

· Anglo-American team show race competitiveness only for bad luck to strike
· #23 Audi scores championship point in both opening rounds of FIA series
· #22 Audi misses out on top-five result in closing stages of Race Two

United Autosports scored a valuable FIA GT3 European Championship point in both opening rounds of the series at the Autodrómo Internacional do Algarve circuit near Portimão this weekend (May 7-8).

Having netted a “podium” finish in the corresponding Portuguese races last year, the Anglo-American team had high hopes of repeating the feat around the challenging 2.92-mile track staging rounds one and two of this year’s series.

But poor qualifying results, due in the main to lack of front-end tire grip, ensured it was always going to be a struggle to record top places in the one-hour races. Ultimately the Matt Bell (GB)/Zak Brown (USA) #23 Legends of Motorsport Audi R8 LMS netted 10th place in both races while the #22 Draper Tools R8 LMS of Joe Osborne (GB)/Mark Patterson (USA) posted two retirements – a top-five placing looking likely in today’s race.

2011 FIA GT3 Drivers' Championship (after two races)
11th= Bell/Brown, 2pts

2011 FIA GT3 Teams' Championship
10th United Autosports

Race 1 (Saturday, duration 60mins)

Qualifying: 17th #22 Patterson, 1m 48.064s; 19th #23 Brown, 1m 48.303. Weather: Dry, cloudy.
Race Result: 10th (#23) +77.083s P1; Retired (#22), -31 laps. Weather: Dry, sunny.

Patterson started 16th but having made up positions, was punted out of the race at the third corner on the opening lap – the American ultimately managing to bring his Audi with broken right rear suspension back to the pits to post the #22 Audi’s first retirement in its 13th FIA race.

At the green light, a determined Brown made up an incredible six places on a hectic opening lap and into 11th by lap 11 despite getting hit a number of times in the opening laps which damaged a wheel. He pitted from just outside the top-10 just before mid-distance, handing the Legends of Motorsport Audi over to Bell who was obliged to serve a stop-go penalty by race officials for completing the mandatory driver change pit-stop two tenths of a second under the 75secs minimum “stationary” time – a decision organizers 24 hours later suggested was incorrect due to a timing malfunction. Bell recovered to take the checker placed 10th – the second highest Audi R8 LMS – despite sustaining a broken engine mount.

Race 2 (Sunday, duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 17th #22 Osborne, 1m 46.828s; 20th #23 Bell, 1m 46.996s. Weather: Dry, cloudy.
Race Result: 10th (#23) +41.569s P1; 18th (#22) Not running at finish -3 laps P1. Weather: Dry, sunny.

Overnight repairs finished at 3.30am after a fantastic effort by the crew to get both Audi sports cars race ready for Race Two – the drivers looking to reward their hard work with top finishes. Osborne and Bell hovered just outside the top-10 line astern before a Safety Car period prompted the pit-stop phase, both United Autosports cars stopping together on lap 15.

Patterson was placed eighth when the race action resumed and went for fifth place with three laps to go but collided with an Aston Martin which tore off the Audi’s front wheel. A slightly tardy pit-stop saw Brown lose contact with the “sister” Audi but worked his impressively through the field and up to 10th by the end – despite being spun around in the closing stages – his “attacker” receiving a drive thru penalty for the ambitious overtaking maneuver to underline the team’s competitiveness.

Upcoming . . .
The third round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. A two-hour race staged at Snetterton, Norfolk (England) on May 15 – on the new “300” track. Matt Bell & Mike Guasch are placed joint third in the standings after a “double” podium in the opening races at Oulton Park (April 25). Third & fourth rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone (England) on 4-5 June.

#22 Draper Tools – Audi R8 LMS

Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 22. Born: Bedford, GB. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, GB:
“This weekend has been so frustrating after what had been a successful winter testing program in which the Audi was mega. I was gutted after qualifying. We’d been in the ‘mix’ in practice but on new tires, we had no front end grip which wasn’t helped by the track being ‘greener’ due to overnight rain.

“The start of Race Two was crazy – we were four wide going in to Turn 1 and I just waited for a hit. I made up around five places and had Matt as a ‘rear gunner’ for me before the Safety Car and handing over to Mark. I’d tried to hold back so as to get in the pits early – which worked perfectly for the ultimate winner because he was way behind Matt and I before the Safety Car. For us it was a second DNF of the weekend but we’d shown in this race that we were competitive. I must thank the crew who were up until the early hours making repairs to our car – made courtesy of sponsor Draper Tools’ range of pit equipment!”

Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, SA. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
“The cooler temperatures in qualifying didn’t help our cause while a Red Flag interrupted my run. Race One got no better for me when I posted our car’s first-ever DNF. I’d made a pretty good start and picked up a place or two, took a bump at turn two then a guy turned in on me aggressively at turn three, hitting my back wheel which broke the suspension.

“Joe did a great job in Race Two before handing to me in the Safety Car phase during which I picked up some ‘cheap’ positions. I guess I was a little over anxious and tried a pass that was too aggressive and that was the end. A little more patience from me would have been a great asset for the team but I will learn from this.”

#23 Legends of Motorsport – Audi R8 LMS

Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
“We didn’t have the ultimate pace in qualifying, struggling massively for grip, but our race pace was good in both races. However, starting where we did on the grid meant it was always going to be impossible to make up a massive amount of time and despite coming through to 10th in Race One, I was still disappointed. Zak made a good start and put in a great stint, handed over to me and I went back out in P11, caught a group in front of me only to get a stop-go penalty – there was potential for a top-six no question.

“I made a great start in Race Two – it was a complete mêlée out there. I couldn’t describe how I got to where I did – I was just praying no one would hit me because there was so much going on – and ended up behind Joe in the ‘sister’ Audi. We got stuck behind an Aston Martin which held us up before he made a mistake due to our pressure just before the Safety Car. In the end, it was another point for 10th place. A big thanks to our car crew – they did a great job overnight in giving us a good racecar.”

Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“I’ve not done as much pre-season testing as I would have liked. I had minor surgery after the 24 Hours of Daytona that took me out of action for a month so I’m a little short of miles. I was disappointed with my qualifying performance for Race One but put that behind me and made a mega start, making up a load of places with some neat overtaking. Unfortunately we got a penalty, which later turned out to be an incorrect decision by the organizers, otherwise I think we would have been inside the top-six.

“Unfortunately in Race Two another Audi hit me on the back section of the track which spun me around costing about four positions. If we compare our FIA début at Silverstone 12 months ago to this weekend, we’ve shown in both races to be competitive and potential top-six finishers. Mark and Joe did a great job today and were very unfortunate not to post a top-five.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"I can’t help being disappointed – especially for the team who have worked incredibly hard and tirelessly this weekend and through no fault of our drivers, were not rewarded with the race results we deserved. Last year we started a race here from the front row. Our best this weekend was 17th – our qualifying performance was a major frustration. Our Dunlop tires are superb in a ‘used’ condition and over a race duration – as was shown in both races – but for qualifying, the grip level is not there. In Race One, Zak got hit a number of times not far away from where Mark’s race was wrecked with suspension damage while the #23 Audi, despite a bent rear wheel and what we later found to be a broken engine mounting, registered 10th place after strong performances from both Zak and Matt.

“Joe and Mark deserved to get a top-six finish in Race Two today and although Mark’s attempted pass wasn’t successful, I’m glad he went for it as it shows we are competitive. Matt and Zak should have recorded another top-six finish for us. The #23 was sat bumper-to-bumper with the #22 Audi in the pit-stop but was a little slower during the driver change procedure. So we come away with a 10th yesterday – organizers today admitting that the timing was wrong for a number of cars including our #23 so we shouldn’t have had any penalty – and another 10th today. Scant reward for every member of the team. But we leave Portugal knowing that an improvement in qualifying will enable us to regularly fight for top-six placings this season.”

United Autosports
Created 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 LMS
V10 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, Dunlop radial tires. Start weight 1,320kg. Limitation at 8500rpm 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, Brown, Osborne & Patterson biographies plus team & car profiles are available on the United Autosports website

A comprehensive library of Editorial Copyright Free photographs can be downloaded at

For further information, please contact:
Martyn Pass
Audi UK Sport Press
T +44 1564 824600
M +44 7801 859502
Skype martyn.pass

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