- Anglo-American “customer” Audi team achieves creditable overall positions to compliment Audi's first Spa day-night-day victory
- Early race agony for #11 Audi in annual Total 24 Hours of Spa
This year’s twice-around-the-clock Spa race - the world's second oldest 24 hour motor race - featured not only a massive entry but an incredible top quality GT3 field that notably included numerous “factory” supported machinery. But United Autosports ably complimented the winning factory-backed Audi's team's outright race win - its first in the historic Spa race - with a fine performance.
The #23 Zak Brown (USA)/Richard Dean (GB)/Johnny Herbert (GB)/Stefan Johansson (SE) and “sister” #12 Audi of Alain Li (F)/Arie Luyendyk (NL)/Richard Meins (GB)/Henri Richard (F) went on to register 13th and 19th places overall – the Audi Sport official “customer” team’s #23 Audi creditably being the third highest R8 LMS at the finish. Unfortunately the #11 Audi of Matt Bell (GB)/Mark Blundell (GB)/Eddie Cheever (USA)/Mark Patterson (USA) retired on Saturday evening.
Bell had swept the #11 up to 14th after an hour from his 34th start place but the Audi, with Patterson now at the wheel, lost 20mins after two pit-stops in quick succession with just over two hours gone. An electrical issue necessitating a change of the ECU dropped it to 54th (nine laps down).
Patterson set an impressive best lap for the #11 Audi before handing over to Cheever who agonizingly coasted to a standstill with no power after 5½hrs when placed 38th.
The #12 moved up impressively from 53rd on the 62-car grid to inside the top-30 despite two harmless spins while the #23 Audi was up to 17th in the sixth hour after solid stints by Dean, Brown, Johansson and ultimately Herbert. However Johnny, who set his car’s fastest race lap on Sunday, lost 14mins to cure a misfire moments after the demise of the #11 – Herbert resuming 27th.
After nine hours, #23 (Dean) and #12 (Luyendyk) lay 17th and 25th respectively but the #23 dropped to 26th after a 24mins pit-stop at 3am to repair damaged steering when Johansson suffered contact with another car.
The #12 had worked its way up to 22nd by mid-distance but shortly afterwards, a 31mins pit-stop to replace a power steering pump saw Li resume in 27th. With three hours to run, the UA cars lay 16th (#23) and 17th (#12) despite an unscheduled six minute pit-stop to repair damaged bodywork on the #23. Dean (#23) moved up to 14th with an hour to run while Luyendyk (#12) cruelly dropped two places from 17th after solid drives by Li, Meins, Richard and Luyendyk – the latter setting his car’s fastest lap – with 30mins remaining to ultimately be classified 19th after a gear selection issue during the final 70mins. Indeed such was the intensity of the competition, only 31 cars were classified at the finish of the race won by the factory-backed #33 Audi R8 LMS sports car.
United Autosports now reverts to its Avon Tyres British GT and FIA GT3 European Championship programs with the Audi R8 LMS but also contests two GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 races (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio) with Brown and Blundell.
UA leads the BGT with four races remaining and concludes its second FIA GT3 season with a brace of races apiece in Slovakia and the Netherlands.
Its second season of competition, which began with Blundell, Brown, Patterson and Martin Brundle (GB) finishing fourth in the Rolex 24, draws to a close with a GT Cup race in Macau (China) in November with its Audi R8 LMS sports cars.
The GRAND-AM Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen, USA (August 12-13) . . . penultimate two races of the FIA Series (Slovakia Ring) August 20-21 . . . rounds seven and eight of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship staged at Rockingham (England) on September 3-4.
2011 Total 24 Hours of Spa United Autosports – Audi R8 LMS:
#11: Matt Bell (GB) / Mark Patterson (USA) / Eddie Cheever (USA) / Mark Blundell (GB)
HOURLY POSITIONS: Driver rotations MBe/MP/EC. Start Pos 34th; 1hr 14th/6th; 2hrs 41st/23rd; 3hrs 53rd/24th; 4hrs 43rd/21st; 5hrs 40th/21st. Retires from 38th
Matthew Bell (GB). Age: 21. Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England: Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: Spa début October 2009 (Ginetta G20). Last race at Spa: July 9-10 2011, British GT Championship (6th/4th). Other 24Hr races: None.
“The start of the race was manic. The car’s handling wasn’t great as I was on worn tires but we made an adjustment in the pit stop which improved the balance. Near the end of my stint the car suddenly lost power and it went into ‘safe’ mode so I had to do a re-set. What with the weather conditions on Thursday and going out so early in the race, it’s been a baptism of fire in terms of my maiden 24 hour race but it’s been a good experience.”
Mark Blundell (GB). Age: 45. Born: Barnet, England. Lives: Royston, England:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 9th/3rd (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début May 16 1987 (F3000/2nd). F3000 (1987-89 – 1987/2nd), F1 (1991-95 – 91 scored first-ever F1 point, 94/5th, 95/5th), sports cars (1989/3rd). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (9th/3rd). Other 24Hr races: Le Mans (1989, 1990, 1992/1st, 1995/4th, 2001, 2002, 2003/2nd). Daytona (2011/4th [United Autosports Riley-Ford]). Nürburgring (2011).
“I am personally disappointed but more for the entire team, who worked very hard, and the sponsors who have supported us. Of course it would have been nice to drive with my co-drivers and get to the end of the 24 hours and claim another top result like last year but it wasn’t to be on that occasion. It has been great to work with Mark, Eddie and Matt and with United Autosports again.”
Eddie Cheever (USA). Age: 53. Born: Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Lives: Indianapolis, USA:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 9th/3rd (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Spa début May 22 1983 F1/3rd, F1 (1983, 85-89 – 1983/3rd, 1987/4th, 1988/6th), GpC (1986/5th, 1987/4th. Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (9th/3rd). Other 24Hr races: Le Mans (1980/19th, 1981/8th, 1986/24th, 1987/5th). Daytona (2006/17th, 2007/32nd).
“The car went slower and slower and then the power just cut off completely after I’d heard a noise. I’m very disappointed – it’s such a shame for the team and my co-drivers. We ran on a different compound of tire to what we did last year and seemed to be always chasing the right balance. It was fun to drive here at Spa again – I’m just gutted to be out so early in the race.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, S Africa. Lives: Bronxville, N.Y., USA:
Spa 24Hr: 2009 17th o/a (Ferrari 430 GT3); 2010 10th/4th (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début 2001. Lamborghini Super Trophy (2001). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (10th/4th). Other 24Hr races: Daytona (2004 38th/13th, 2005 23rd/14th, 2006/2nd, 2007/9th, 2008/6th, 2009/41st, 2010/7th, 2011/4th [United Autosports Riley-Ford]).
“Matt had done a great stint before I took over. But immediately after a Safety Car period the revs increased but the speed didn’t when I hit the accelerator. I tried different gears but the problem remained so I pitted. We replaced the ECU and dropped nine laps but after that the Audi felt like a brand new car and I drove the single best stint of my life. The R8 LMS was just fantastic. It’s such a shame we went out so early.”
Alain Li (F).
Age: 51. Born: Caen, France. Lives: Hong Kong:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 10th/4th (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début 2004, Ferrari Challenge Series (2004-8). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (10th/4th). Other 24Hr races: None.
“Our car crew came up with a good aggressive strategy that brought us inside the top-20. I tried to not take any risks and be consistent but after the second safety car re-start, someone spun me around at the ‘bus stop’. In the last phase of my second triple stint, I felt the steering tighten, so pitted for a new power steering pump. It was a great effort from United Autosports, from all the boys, from my team-mates and our Audi. It is one of the best motor racing events that I have been to.”
Arie Luyendyk (NL). Age: 57. Born: Sommelsdijk, The Netherlands. Lives: Fountain Hills, AZ, USA:
Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: Début. Other 24Hr races: Daytona (1986/2nd, 1988/89/91/97 (all DNFs), 1998/1st, 1999/8th; Le Mans (1989/DNF).
“It rained during my first stint which made racing on ‘slicks’ pretty tricky. But it was a really good stint and I was happy with my performance having found a good rhythm that deserted me for my second stint in which the tires went off making the Audi hard to drive. In my last stints on Sunday afternoon, there was a gearbox issue which ultimately brought our race to a premature end. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable experience and I was happy with my pace.”
Henri Richard (F). Age: 53. Born: Paris, France. Lives: Los Altos Hills, California, USA:
Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: None. Spa début 2011 Spa 24 Hours. Last race at Spa: None. Other 24Hr races: Daytona 24 Hours (2010, 2011).
“I had never driven on this track but was familiar with the Audi from the Zhuhai race last November but on these tires, the car behaved quite differently and it took me time to get on the pace. My first stint, a triple into the night, proved to be a lot of work, and but my second one felt a lot better in which I set my personal fastest lap. I take a positive view – it’s setting the base line for a much faster pace next year. There are a lot of mixed emotions with the result but I’m philosophical. 24 hour races are always extremely difficult just to finish let alone to get a position.”
HOURLY POSITIONS: Driver rotations RD/ZB/SJ/JH. Start Pos 28th; 1hr 47th/21st; 2hrs 30th/16th; 3hrs 25th/11th; 4hrs 23rd/10th; 5hrs 20th/9th; 6hrs 18th/9th; 7hrs 25th/12th; 8hrs 23rd/11th; 9hrs 17th/7th; 10hrs 18th/8th; 11hrs 20th/11th; 12hrs 25th/15th; 13hrs 25th/14th; 14hrs 24th/12th; 15hrs 23rd/12th; 16hrs 22nd/11th; 17hrs 21st/11th; 18hrs 18th/10th; 19hrs 17th/9th; 20hrs 17th/8th; 21hrs 16th/7th; 22hrs 16th/7th; 23hrs 14th/6th; FINISH 13th/6th.
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 9th/3rd (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Opel Lotus Formula (1993/3rd). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (9th/3rd). Other 24Hr races: BritCar (Silverstone, GB), Daytona (1997/8th, 1999, 2000, 2010/33rd o/a/20th, 2011/4th [United Autosports Riley-Ford]).
“I was happy with my stints, setting my personal best on Sunday morning, so I’m happy overall. We continue to struggle with the tires. The Audi was essentially good but we had some issues which you can expect in a 24 hour race. It was really unfortunate that our #11 Audi went out so early and then the #12 car dropped a couple of places late in the race. Given what a rough race it was, I’m pretty happy to finish 13th from where we started on this extraordinarily strong grid. Our race crew did a fantastic job and – they never gave up. Congratulations must go to Audi Sport Team WRT on it’s victory in what is a very important and prestigious race.”
Richard Dean (GB). Age: 46. Born & Lives: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 9th/3rd (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début August 29 1992/Ret (F3000). F3000 (1992), FIA GT (1997/24th/12th), British GT (1998/6th/2nd 1999/2nd). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (9th/3rd). Other 24Hr races: WillHire (GB), BritCar (Silverstone, GB) 2006/2nd o/a / 1st in class), Nürburgring, Le Mans (2006/15th/1st, 2007/23rd/5th, 2009), Mondello Park (IRL), Daytona (2010/33rd/20th), Dubai.
“My stints were uneventful and without drama although I found it physically harder than last year. The competition was extremely tough with an amazing field of GT3 cars and for me Zak was the ‘stand out’ in our car – he was quick and consistent. I’m really proud of our team as the run up to here was very tough. We’ve been racing five weekends out of the last six and so to put on this kind of a showing is fantastic. I am disappointed that Eddie couldn’t get the #11 car back from the track as his co-drivers and crew deserved more from the weekend. Then our #12 dropped a couple of places right at the end – it doesn’t get much harder than that.”
Johnny Herbert (GB). Age: 46. Born: Brentwood, Essex, England. Lives: Dorsington nr Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England:
Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: Début September 13 1986 (F3/8th). F1 (1989, 1991/7th, 1992/13th ret, 1993/5th, 1994/12th, 1995/7th, 1996, 1997/4th, 1998/10th, 1999/11th, 2000/8th), F3 (1986/87). Last race at Spa: September 12 2004 (LMS/1st). Other 24Hr races: Le Mans (1990, 1991/1st, 1992/4th, 2001, 2002/2nd, 2003/2nd, 2004/2nd, 2007/9th). Dubai 24 Hours 2009 (45th/ 8th). Nürburgring (2011).
“We had to hustle the car because it was never totally settled on these tires – the only time was on hard tires. That makes the weekend more frustrating because we know how good the Audi R8 LMS is but we weren’t able to get the right balance and so struggled. We had an electronics issue but apart from that the Audi ran faultlessly. I’m glad I have done this race for the first time, especially with all of the drivers in the United team. I’d love to come back and do better next year.”
Stefan Johansson (SE). Age: 54. Born: Växjö, Sweden. Lives: Los Angeles, California, USA:
Spa 24Hr: 2010 10th/4th (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début August 9 1981 (F2/14th). F1 (1983, 85-91 – 1986/3rd, 1987/2nd), F2 (1981-2 – pole-position 1982/F2), GpC (1982-4), 1,000km sports cars (1988/1st). Last race at Spa: July 31-August 1 2010, Spa 24 Hours (10th/4th). Other 24Hr races: Le Mans (1983/6th, 1984, 1990, 1991/6th, 1992/5th, 1997/1st, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003/3rd, 2006, 2007, 2008). Daytona (2000 23rd, 2002 36th/13th, 2005/4th, 2006/22nd).
“In the main, I found the car extremely hard to drive in each of my stints and had to work extremely hard to set decent times. Much of it was due to the massive amount of rubber ‘pick-up’. I also thought some of the driving standards left much to be desired at times. But Zak and Richard pulled together a great team of drivers and we’ve had some real fun this weekend. Perhaps I can come back here next year and make it third time lucky.”
2011 Total 24 Hours of Spa United Autosports – Audi R8 LMS 16:00 Start: P28 #23 Dean; #11 P34 Bell; #12 P53 Li
16:41 #23 pit stop: fuel & tires, rear aero adjustment
16:50 #12 pit stop: fuel only
Positions after 1hr: 14th #11 47th #23 48th #12
17:01 #11 pit stop: fuel, rear aero adjustment
17:44 #23 pit stop: fuel only
17:48 #11 pit stop: fuel, tires, Bell to Patterson. 6mins lost in garage with electrics reset
17:51 #12 pit stop: fuel only
Positions after 2hrs: 30th #23 37th #12 41st #11
18:15 #12 Li hit and spun around, no damage
18:16 #11 pit stop: ECU changed14mins lost in garage, resumes 54th (-9 laps)
18:47 #23 pit stop: fuel, tires, Dean to Brown
18:54 #12 pit stop: fuel, tires, Li to Meins
18:58 #11 pit stop: fuel, tires, shock adjustment
Positions after 3hrs: 26th #23 36th #12 53rd #11 19:50 #23 pit stop: fuel, Brown to Johansson
19:58 #12 pit stop: fuel only
Positions after 4hrs: 23rd #23 27th #12 43rd #11 20:02 #11 pit stop: fuel, tires, shock adjustment, Patterson to Cheever
20:36 #12 Meins spins at Blanchimont, no contact
20:39 #12 pit stop: fuel, cleaned ducting of grass
20:50 #23 pit stop: fuel, tires
Positions after 5hrs: 20th #23 28th #12 40th #11
21:11 #11 pit stop: fuel, rear aero adjustment
21:32 #11 38th placed Cheever loses power, stops on track at Raidillon, retires
21:41 #12 pit stop: fuel, tires, Meins to Richard
21:48 #23 pit stop: fuel, Johansson to Herbert
Positions after 6hrs: 19th #23 30th #12
22:23 #23 pit stop: 17th placed Herbert reports misfire. Fuel, tires, front brake pad change. Connector to fuel pump system replaced, 14mins lost in garage, resumes 27th
22:40 #12 pit stop: fuel, oil added
Positions after 7hrs: 25th #23 28th #12
23:36 #23 pit stop: fuel, tires, Herbert to Dean
23:39 #12 pit stop: fuel only
Positions after 8hrs: 23rd #23 26th #12
00:36 #23 pit stop: fuel only
00:39 #12 pit stop: fuel, Richard to Luyendyk
Positions after 9hrs: 17th #23 25th #12
01:38 #23 pit stop: fuel, tires, Dean to Brown
01:43 #12 pit stop: fuel, front brake pad change
Positions after 10hrs: 18th #23 25th #12
02:13 #12 pit stop: fuel, tires, after left front puncture (debris)
02:46 #23 pit stop: fuel, tires, Brown to Johansson
Positions after 11hrs: 20th #23 25th #12
03:00 #23 pit stop: tires, steering damage after collision, front & rear brake pads changed, 24mins lost in garage, resumes 26th
03:14 #12 pit stop: fuel, Luyendyk to Li
Positions after 12hrs: 22nd #12 25th #23
04:15 #12 pit stop: fuel, tires
04:17 #23 pit stop: fuel only
04:22 #12 pit stop, power steering pump replaced, 31mins lost in garage, resumes 27th
04:32 #23 pit stop, contact, precautionary check, no damage
04:42 #23 pit stop, fuel, tires after puncture, Johansson to Herbert
Positions after 13hrs: 25th #23 27th #12
05:40 #23 pit stop, fuel
05:42 #12 pit stop, fuel
Positions after 14hrs: 24th #23 26th #12
06:38 #12 pit stop, fuel, tires, Li to Meins
06:39 #23 pit stop, fuel, tires, Herbert to Dean
Positions after 15hrs: 23rd #23 26th #12
07:43 #23 pit stop, fuel only
07:43 #12 pit stop, fuel, oil added
Positions after 16hrs: 23rd #23 27th #12
08:45 #23 pit stop, fuel, tires, oil replenished, Dean to Brown
08:45 #12 pit stop, fuel, tires, Meins to Richard
Positions after 17hrs: 21st #23 25th #12
09:48 #12 pit stop, fuel
09:49 #23 pit stop, fuel, front brake pad change, rear aero adjustment
Positions after 18hrs: 18th #23 23rd #12
10:25 #12 Richard spins at “bus stop” chicane
10:52 #12 pit stop, fuel, tires Richard to Meins
10:55 #23 pit stop, fuel, tires, wiper adjustment, Brown to Johansson
Positions after 19hrs: 17th #23 22nd #12
11:56 #12 pit stop, fuel only
11:57 #23 pit stop, fuel only
Positions after 20hrs: 17th #23 19th #12
12:22 #23 pit stop, contact, right rear bodywork repairs, fuel, tires, Johansson to Herbert, 6mins lost in garage, resumes 18th
12:56 #12 pit stop, fuel, tires, front brake pad change, Meins to Luyendyk
Positions after 21hrs: 16th #23 17th #12
13:27 #23 pit stop, fuel only
13:34 #12 pit stop, fuel, tires
Positions after 22hrs: 16th #23 17th #12
14:30 #23 pit stop, fuel, tires, Herbert to Dean
14:38 #12 pit stop, fuel
14:50 #12 pit stop, issue with gearbox issue
14:56 #12 pit stop, 18th placed Luyendyk stops at Fagnes, gearbox issue
Positions after 23hrs: 14th #23 18th #12
15:23 #23 pit stop, fuel only
15:33 #12 pit stop, gearbox issues
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, 523 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 (for FIA & Spa 24Hr) and Avon (for BGT) 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.
Date of issue: Sunday July 31, 2011
- Comprehensive driver biographies plus team & car profiles are available on the United Autosports website http://www.unitedautosports.com
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- Broadcast quality TV footage of United Autosports’ three-car Spa entry can be requested from Lauren Roberts at Greenlight TV e:mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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