· Anglo-American team hopes for change of fortune in maiden FIA GT3 races at Navarra
In the opening four events, only once has an Audi R8 LMS claimed a top-three podium result in either qualifying or a one-hour race. In comparison, the BMW Z4, Ferrari 458 Italia, Mercedes SLS and Aston Martin have amassed eight, seven, four and three top-three results which would seem to question the FIA’s Balance of Power restrictions aimed at ensuring close racing.
United Autosports tested at the 2.42-mile Spanish venue in March – although Zak Brown was not present – while all four drivers will be making their race débuts at the relatively new facility.
Provisional Timetable:Friday 1 July – 1510-1610 Practice; 1830-1930 Practice
Saturday 2 July – 0915-1005 Qualifying; 1345-1445 Race 1
Sunday 3 July – 1015-1115 Race 2
* All times are “local”
Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 22. Born: Bedford, GB. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, GB:“Navarra features high speed, demanding corners combined with slower and technical ones. Turn One is my favorite – flat in fifth gear which tightens to a second gear hairpin. It’s frustrating currently for a driver like me trying to make a career in motorsport. The ‘Balance of Power’ is making me look slow. I brought Draper Tools to United Autosports’ FIA program as a team partner and I can only thank them for their understanding and being patient in terms of waiting for the results we deserve.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, SA. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:“I’ve only tested at Navarra but it seems the track has something for everyone – high speed and technical stuff. Although an Audi R8 LMS won in Portugal, the other top R8 LMS race finishes have been a P9, P14 & P7. In comparison the BMW Z4 has been on the race podium 5 times with Ferrari, Merc and Aston two apiece. The 458 has qualified in the top-three 5 times out of six. I don’t need a math PhD to determine if we [Audi] are competing on a level playing field.”
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:“The circuit is really nice with some challenging corners without any particularly long straights so it'll be hard work physically. Hopefully the weather will be warmer [than Silverstone] to help our tires but it’s going to take more than a higher ambient temperature to make the Audi R8 LMS competitive. Not only has the R8 LMS lost performance from the end of last year due to BoP measures but the other new cars appear too fast for the GT3 class.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:“I've never been to Navarra but have heard it’s a fantastic track. I'll have some benefit of having access to my team-mates’ telemetry from our tests there. Our tires definitely suit warm weather conditions. We need a better Balance of Power from the organizers sooner rather than later.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:“We tested at Navarra for two days in March this year with two cars. We did over 400 laps but the ambient temperature was even colder than it would have been at Knockhill in Scotland! I sincerely hope the weather will be kinder to us for the race allowing our Dunlop tires to work a whole lot better than they have in the opening two FIA events. For me and everybody else watching in Portugal and at Silverstone, those four races clearly demonstrated that there are not equally performance balanced cars from all manufacturers competing. So I’m hoping that the FIA were watching too!”
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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