Tuesday, August 16, 2011
United Autosports Scores Third GRAND-AM Top-10 Result From Three Starts
Blundell and Brown sweep #23 Ford-Riley to impressive ninth place on the Anglo-American duo’s DP debut at “The Glen”
Brown and Blundell piloted the United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing #23 Ford-Riley to the team’s third top-10 of the season from three race starts in the “Canadian Tire 200 At the Glen”.
Brown had only previously raced once at the historic “Glen” while the 2.45-mile track in New York State was a completely new deal to Blundell.
Blundell began the two-hour race from the sixth row of the 33-car grid having achieved the 11th fastest time in the 15-minute qualifying session the previous day – a good achievement considering the Briton’s lack of track knowledge and actual running time on the tight event timetable.
He moved up to third after 33 laps before handing over to Brown who drove the mid-section of the race, Zak adapting to the Daytona Prototype in a race for the first time since January, which saw his progression continue throughout his stint. One final stop for a driver change saw Blundell reclaim a top-10 place with the former Formula One and IndyCar ace taking the checker ninth.
Brown and Blundell, together with Martin Brundle (GB) and Mark Patterson (USA), achieved fourth place in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 29-30) while Blundell and Michael Valiante (CAN) finished sixth in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead (March 5).
United Autosports Chairman & Co-Owner Brown, who races full-time in the GT3 sports car category in Europe, and Blundell, contest the GRAND-AM finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA) next month.
Penultimate two races of the FIA GT3 European Championship, Slovakia Ring (Slovakia) on August 20-21 . . . 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 . . .
#23 – Johnnie Walker / UBS / Legends of Motorsport – Riley-Ford
Qualifying: 11th Blundell, 1min 7.939secs (129.822mph). Race: 9th (-3 laps P1)
Mark Blundell (GB). Age: 45. Born: Barnet, England. Lives: Royston, England:
“We improved the balance of the car during the practice sessions in terms of entry to mid-corner but regretfully suffered understeer on exits which obviously hurt our terminal speed and lap time overall in qualifying. Our race performance was reasonable – the car was capable of a top-five but Zak and I had had a very interesting weekend. It was tough for us but we have learned a lot. We came to Watkins Glen as DP ‘rookies’ but come away with experience of the track and importantly more of the car for our next race. I am already looking forward to Mid Ohio.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“It was only my second time here having previously raced and won in my ‘vintage’ Porsche 962 which has bags of downforce so driving a DP here was very different. The track is short and tight and the traffic was a nightmare so I was very pleased to bring the car back in one piece for Mark to finish. Given that the series came here a month ago for a six hour race we were always going to be at a disadvantage combined with our limited knowledge of the car itself. Mark drove like the pro that he is while the MSR team did a good job. We will be more competitive at Mid Ohio because we tested there recently – I would like to think a top-five is possible.”
Mike Shank (USA), Team Owner of Michael Shank Racing: “I’m looking forward to having Zak and Mark back again with us at Mid-Ohio. For never having previously been at this track in a DP, Zak and Mark were just getting better all weekend long. They will be even more prepared for Mid-Ohio and we are all looking forward to having a strong finish there.”
Roush-Yates prepared V8 Ford 5 liter modular engine, 4 cam, 4 valve, producing over 500hp. Rear-wheel-drive. Continental Tires. Weight: 2275lbs; 5 gears, paddle-shift gearbox. The Riley Technologies MK XXII is the most successful Daytona Prototype of all time.
United Autosports Co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, the US-owned, UK-based team was formed in late 2009 and contested the 2010 FIA GT3 European Championship with a brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars. Also competed in 24 Hours of Spa (finishing third & fourth in GT3 class on team’s 24 race début), Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Zhuhai, China (third in GTC) and Macau (third GT Cup). Competes in the 2011 FIA GT3 European and Avon Tyres British GT Championships plus 24 Hours of Spa and Macau.
Michael Shank Racing Since moving full-time to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, Pataskala, Ohio-based Michael Shank Racing has taken three overall wins and 19 podium results, including second overall in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as monopolizing the front row for the 2008 Rolex 24.
** Comprehensive Brown & Blundell biographies plus team profiles on United Autosports and Michael Shank Racing are available to download from the United Autosports website
* A comprehensive library of Editorial Copyright Free photographs can be downloaded at www.flickr.com/unitedautosports/sets
(Photographs from Watkins Glen courtesy of John Dagys)
Date of issue: Sunday August 13, 2011
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Jay Ashton, Media Manager
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