Tuesday, August 23, 2011
“Testing” Times In Slovakia Sets Scene For Possible Dutch Delight In FIA Finalé
• Herculean effort by team ensures #22 Audi is on grid for Saturday’s race
• United look to close out British title in hectic end-of-season schedule
Friday’s practice sessions boded well for the weekend with the Anglo-American team posting top-13 fastest times.
With sights firmly set on achieving top-10 qualifying positions for the first time this season, Saturday morning’s time trails not only saw this aim quashed but ultimately scuppered any prospect of recording the hoped for and richly deserved point-scoring finishes the Zak Brown & Richard Dean led team yearns.
While the #23 Audi was handicapped throughout the session for both Brown and then Bell with a suspension set-up issue, Osborne crashed the #22 on his “out” lap in qualifying and then watched in dismay as the untethered R8 LMS dropped four feet off the back off the ‘flat bed’ recovery truck.
However the team won a race against time to repair the Audi which took over three hours and finished five minutes before the pit-lane opened for the weekend’s opening race after a heroic effort by the entire crew in which the windshield, headlights, front fender and splitter, bonnet, driver’s window and rear wing were all replaced.
Both races therefore became a “test” in terms of the team learning about fine-tuning the Audi R8 LMS to the new Michelin tires and for the drivers to ascertain levels of wear degradation during the race. Important data for the final two races at Zandvoort was accomplished – by which time United will have hopefully “crowned” only its second year in motorsport and first full season in BGT by taking the British series title.
Upcoming . . .
Rounds seven and eight of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, Rockingham (England) on September 4 . . . GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 finale at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA) on September 17 . . . penultimate round of the BGT at Donington Park (England) on September 25 . . . final round of the BGT at Silverstone (England) on October 9 . . . final two FIA GT3 European Championship races, Zandvoort (Netherlands), October 15-16 . . . Macau GT Cup (China), November 20 . . .
Qualifying: 18th #23 Brown, 2m 3.811s; 21st #22 Patterson, 2m 4.073s. Weather: Dry, sunny.
Race Result: 12th (#23) +107.404s P1; 14th (#22) +118.248s P1. Weather: Dry, sunny, hot.
Brown achieved his personal best qualifying position of the season – the third best R8 LMS on the grid – despite a handling imbalance while Patterson put the #22 Audi on the 11th row, Mark and Joe having been restricted to just three “flying” laps in Friday’s opening practice due to an electronics gremlin.
The 27-car field headed into Turn 1 eight-cars abreast, with inevitable contact mid-pack, but Patterson and Brown survived and lay 15th and 16th respectively at the end of the opening lap. Zak pitted from 13th place with 25mins gone with Mark pitting in a “true” 11th place one lap later.
With the compulsory pit-stops for driver changes completed throughout the field, Osborne and Bell lay ninth and 14th with 25mins remaining. Despite both cars progressively losing grip, Matt and Joe took the checker in 12th and 14th places respectively, the #23 Audi going ahead of its “sister” car with five minutes remaining but dropping a place on the final lap. Nevertheless, United Autosports had the best-placed Audi R8 LMS sports cars at the finish for the first time this season.
Qualifying: 24th #23 Bell, 2m 2.560s; 27th #22 Osborne, no time. Weather: Dry, sunny.
Race Result: 14th (#22) +67.929s P1; Retired (#23). Weather: Dry, sunny, hot.
Bell and Osborne were placed 16th and 18th with 20mins gone, Matt handing over to Brown in 13th at mid-distance while Osborne, having battled his way into 12th, swapped to Patterson with 28mins remaining.
After the pit-stop action, Patterson and Brown were 15th and 17th but Brown, having moments before gone airborne at a crest between Turns 2 & 3, out-braked himself and “beached” the #23 Audi with 18mins to run, fellow American Patterson setting impressive times in battling to 14th at the checker – Mark slipping a place in the final minute.
Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 22. Born: Bedford, GB. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, GB: “Saturday morning was certainly one to forget! Firstly the key to my hire car snapped at the hotel but that quickly paled into insignificance when I went off on my out lap in qualifying. I thought the tires were up to temperature but obviously they weren’t. The Audi flicked in to oversteer at Turn 9, ran wide and in to the gravel trap which didn’t slow me down at all. I impacted the tire barriers at around 50mph. But the damage was compounded when the car then fell off the recovery vehicle at the scene. It hadn’t been secured and so when the truck pulled away the car dropped four feet off the back and rolled to a standstill against a post. I really wanted to reward the team with a good result on Saturday after their stunning efforts to get the car repaired but as soon as I took over from Mark, who had driven an awesome stint, I found the rear tires ‘shot’. In Friday’s final practice I did a 4.0 on used tires while my first flying lap in Saturday’s race was a 6.0. Despite making changes to the traction control, it still oversteered and I was powerless to defend my top-10 position. On Sunday, I got around three cars before the first corner in Race Two but just couldn’t get ahead of the Matt Griffin Ferrari which separated Matt [Bell] and myself. I was very conscious of looking after the tires but ultimately managed to get past Griffin moments before I pitted. The Audi was perfect today. We were on a steep learning curve this weekend.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, SA. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
“Qualifying was interrupted early on due to a red flag but I went on to improve my times massively compared to Friday. I was baulked on what was looking to be my fastest lap at the end but the times were real close with one second covering 11th place to me in 21st. Someone got touched at the start of Race One on Saturday and there were cars all around me but by a hair’s breadth, I escaped any carnage and emerged having made up six places. I was just ahead of Zak and that 30mins of racing was spectacular, great fun. I took over from Joe in Sunday’s race and my biggest problem with the car was that the windscreen was very dirty. We jumped Zak in the ‘sister’ Audi during the pit-stops and then I just battled hard to the finish, wrestling my way past some cars. It was fun out there today.”
#23 Legends of Motorsport – Audi R8 LMS
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
“The steering wheel was out of alignment for me in qualifying while the right rear felt unstable which we later traced to an overnight set-up issue. I took over from Zak in Saturday’s race and immediately noticed the pace wasn’t there. In the closing stages the grip level deteriorated from sector to sector on the same lap. My main intention was to steer clear of trouble in Race Two which I managed and overtook a couple of cars once I’d got in to a rhythm, staying clear of curbs and not be too aggressive so we could learn about the tires. Having not raced on Michelins for over a year and having not tested on them coming into this race, it was always going to be a trip in to the unknown. We take away many positives despite not immediately achieving the ultimate results we were hoping for.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“I was still getting used to the Michelins in qualifying – it wasn’t a bad lap – could have been better without the handling imbalance. I thought I was going to be hit on three or four different occasions in the first corner melee in Saturday’s opening race. The car was good for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the battle with Mark. Unfortunately I cost us some time at the changeover by not calling the pit lane entry marker over the radio to my engineer but overall not a bad result for the team after the combined problems thrown at us earlier on Saturday. Sunday’s stint was short. I got airborne over the crest in a big, big way, two or three laps in – travelling almost 60metres – the track must be revised. That unsettled me which led to me making a mistake. It’s not been a great weekend in terms of results but we can carry what we’ve learned through to Zandvoort which is a plus.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“Coming to a brand new circuit, switching tires and not having tested on them, meant it was always going to be difficult for us. We suffered a setback when the #22 Audi went off in qualifying which meant we were then on our back foot. The entire team deserves credit for not only repairing the car but getting it into a state where it could post the second best result for an R8 LMS. Joe and Mark did a great job bringing it home from the back of the grid. We learnt a lot about tire wear in Race One and the changes we made to the cars overnight by our engineers paid dividends for Sunday’s race when our pace from start to finish was much better, with the drivers happy with the balance and grip levels. We can now put this valuable knowledge we’ve collected to good effect at Zandvoort and finish the FIA season on a plus.”
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, Michelin radial tires. Minimum start weight 1,295kg. 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
For further information, please contact:
Audi UK Sport Press
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