- Unseasonably cold weather thwarts Anglo-American team’s glory bid
- Famous English venue proves to be a difficult track for Audi R8 LMS teams
“Flaming June” it was not at Silverstone (England) for United Autosports’ “home” FIA GT3 European Championship races of the year this weekend (June 4-5).
Consequently the unseasonably low ambient temperatures which decreased as the three-day event went on, wrecked any hopes the Anglo-American team had of scoring top finishes on “home soil”. Its Dunlop tires, normally excelling in the latter stages of the hour-long races as opposed to short qualifying runs, were unable to generate the necessary heat required for optimum grip leaving the drivers powerless.
Nevertheless the #22 Draper Tools sports car of Joe Osborne (GB) and Mark Patterson (USA) was the second-highest Audi R8 LMS in both one-hour races around the 3.67-mile “Arena” Grand Prix track.
Upcoming . . .
The fourth round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. A two-hour race staged at Brands Hatch, Kent (England) on June 19 which Matt Bell (GB) & Mike Guasch (USA) start as championship leaders after winning the last race at Snetterton. Fifth & sixth rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Navarra (Spain) on 2-3 July.
Race 1 (Saturday, duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 19th #22 Patterson, 2m 06.259s; 22nd #23 Brown, 2m 06.990s. Weather: Dry, cloudy.
Race Result: 15th (#22) +51.477s P1; 21st (#23) +70.767s. Weather: Dry, sunny, cool.
Patterson and Brown lined up 19th and 22nd respectively on the 27-car grid – both frustrated when cool morning conditions did not help generate heat in to the temperature sensitive Dunlop tires during the 20-minute qualifying session. Both dropped places during the hectic start with Patterson, who had incredulously been hit before the green light, was back in to 19th by the fourth lap while Brown lay 26th after a harmless spin at Becketts on lap eight.
Mark, having set his personal best time the previous lap, and Zak pitted from 19th and 23rd positions respectively with 33mins to run, Osborne and Bell resuming in 23rd and 24th positions separated by less than seven seconds.
With 10mins remaining Osborne moved up to 18th – a mysterious handling imbalance severely handicapping Bell’s pace in 21st. Joe was the quickest car in the field on the final lap, as his Dunlop tires came into their own, enabling him to take the checker in 15th – one position and less than five seconds behind the best placed Audi, Osborne having set the eighth fastest lap time in the race – with Bell 21st.
Race 2 (Sunday, duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 12th #22 Osborne, 2m 04.230s; 22nd #23 Bell, 2m 5.020s. Weather: Dry, cloudy, light rain.
Race Result: 16th (#22) +69.334s P1; 17th (#23) +82.508s. Weather: Dry, overcast, cool, breezy.
Osborne started from row six – the second best-placed Audi R8 LMS – with Bell on the 12th row but optimistic further suspension changes overnight would solve the handling issue on the #23 Audi. A multi-car accident at the first corner moments after the green light resulted in a 10min Safety Car period – Osborne making up two places despite being forced wide to miss the carnage with Bell, who ran over on-track debris, 19th.
Osborne was embroiled in a five-car dice over seventh at the re-start while Bell, enjoying a more consistent balance, impressively moved up to 15th prior to pitting at mid-distance – five places behind Osborne.
Patterson resumed 13th but Zak coasted to a standstill on his out-lap, a full ignition re-set getting the American underway almost immediately but having slipped back to 21st. Further woes afflicted the #22 Audi when Patterson was forced wide dropping to 18th – one place ahead of Brown with 16mins remaining.
At the checker, Patterson and Brown claimed 16th – a spin on the penultimate lap costing Mark a place – and 17th respectively – both United Autosports’ Audi sports cars recording some impressive lap times in the closing stages culminating, once again, with each driver setting their best laps at the finish.
#22 Draper Tools – Audi R8 LMS
Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 22. Born: Bedford, GB. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, GB:
“I had a lot of work to do in Race One but just got my head down. The tires came in towards the very end and I managed to claw back some places which was encouraging. I was reasonably happy with my qualifying performance on Saturday, claiming P12 although it could have been a top-eight but I lost out in traffic on what was looking to be my quickest lap. I was close to getting wiped out at the start of the second race with the first corner accident, having to go way off onto the run off area. It’s frustrating as we [Audi] shouldn’t be in a position whereby the R8 LMS is fighting for positions in midfield – it would seem that the Balance of Power is not right.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, SA. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
“I qualified P19 for Saturday’s race which was the best I could manage. Amazingly I was hit three corners before the race had even started which caused me to be slow away at the green light and then I had to be a little careful until I knew if the car had been damaged. It wasn’t a particularly rewarding stint which gave Joe a lot to do when he took over. Having driven the Audi on full tanks on Saturday, I enjoyed Sunday’s race far better. Joe handed me over a nice racecar. Unfortunately I had a spin near the end.”
#23 Legends of Motorsport – Audi R8 LMS
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
“We tested at Snetterton before we came here and the Audi R8 LMS was excellent but here, the handling has not been good. We’d made an overnight change to the suspension set-up on Friday resulting in the back end being too loose for me in qualifying on Saturday so we reverted back to the previous set-up for Race One but the handling was still not to my liking. Further changes were made for Sunday’s race and it was more consistent but not perfect. I made a good start but then had to stand on the brakes to avoid the opening corner accident. With the cool conditions, the opposition’s Michelins didn’t drop off in terms of grip as much as normal while our Dunlop tires, didn’t give us a second half of the race advantage that they normally give us.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“Frustrated – no other word sums up how Matt & I feel, and the entire team for that matter, feel after this weekend. With United Autosports coming off recording its first outright win [British GT Championship] combined with us racing here at Silverstone for a second time, we expected to be very competitive this weekend. The set-up clearly didn’t suit the conditions we’ve had over the past three days. Our Dunlop tires excel as a race progresses but they need the ambient temperature to be warm. At Silverstone, it got colder each day so we couldn’t enjoy the advantage that we normally enjoy as a race progresses. We therefore qualified poorly and I’m afraid that continued in to both races when we had one of those days in the office that is best forgotten. We all have bad weekends, this was ours, and all we do now is look ahead to the next races and hopefully some hotter weather!”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“Although the weekend was a huge disappointment to everyone in the United Autosports team, we will learn from the experience for future races. The cold ambient temperature in both races negated the advantage our Audi R8 LMS has of being easy on its tires as well as the actual performance of our Dunlop tires from the mid-race stage. We now look forward to an upturn in fortune in Spain next month and replicate the success we are enjoying in the British GT Championship.”
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 1,300kg. 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 http://www.unitedautosports.com/
A comprehensive library of Editorial Copyright Free photographs can be downloaded at www.flickr.com/unitedautosports/sets
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