- Anglo-American team brings curtain down on FIA GT3 European Championship campaign to focus on Blancpain Endurance Series next season
- Final race for United's Audi in Europe after two year program before 2012 switch to McLaren
- Only Macau remains in hectic 24 Hr-race 2011 season with R8 LMS
United Autosports closed two chapters in its short, 20-month existence when the checker unfurled in the final FIA GT3 European Championship race of the season at Circuit Park Zandvoort (NED) today (October 16).
But there was to be no fairytale ending despite a lot of effort by the Anglo-American team that registered three hard-earned top-20 placings with their brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars.
The one-hour races staged on the historic 2.68-mile Zandvoort coastal track located 15miles from Amsterdam marked the final appearance of a United Audi in Europe and the team's last FIA races – United switching to the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 and the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2012.
United Autosports contests its 41st race since its race début in April last year at Macau next month with the R8 LMS (2010: 12 FIA GT3, 2 BGT, Spa 24 Hours, Zhuhai ILMC, Macau. 2011: 12 FIA GT3, 10 BGT, Spa 24 Hours).
Hong Kong-based Richard Meins (GB) will be making his fourth appearance behind the wheel of a United R8 LMS when he lines-up in the GT race at Macau.
Race 1 (Saturday, duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 17th #22 Patterson, 1m 42.136s; 20th #23 Brown, 1m 43.188s. Weather: Dry, sunny, cold.
Race Result: 19th (#22) +72.152s P1; 20th (#23) +72.958s P1. Weather: Dry, sunny, cold.
Qualifying, staged under a clear blue sky but in very cold conditions early on Saturday morning, was brought to a premature end after a second red flag stoppage. Patterson was an early fourth fastest before pitting from P11 to check tire pressures prior to the first red flag. Meanwhile Brown opted to miss the opening 10mins and so had his session completely disrupted with the two stoppages and an early finish.
The sun still shone for Saturday afternoon's opening race but the temperature remained a cold 8°C, Patterson and Brown starting from the ninth and 10th rows respectively of the 28-car grid.
At one-quarter distance, Patterson and Brown placed 19th (the second highest Audi) and 22nd respectively, Zak handing over the #23 Audi to Bell after 27mins in 21st with Mark pitting the #22 R8 LMS for Osborne from 17th with 31mins remaining.
With 15mins to run, Osborne and Bell ran 18th and 20th covered by less than a second, the #22 and #23 Audis taking the checker in 19th and 20th – Joe less than 10secs behind the best-placed Audi in 16th.
Race 2 (Sunday, duration 60mins)
Qualifying: 23rd #23 Bell, 1m 40.622s; 26th #22 Osborne, 1m 40.886s. Weather: Dry, sunny, cold.
Race Result: 20th (#23) -1 lap P1; 21st (#22) -1 lap P1. Weather: Dry, sunny, cool.
Qualifying on Saturday began 40mins behind schedule following extensive repairs to the Armco barrier, while a double waved yellow at the final corner cost Osborne a top-20 start position with Bell thwarted with a handling imbalance.
Sunday dawned bright, sunny and cool (11°C) with Bell and Osborne starting the #23 and #22 cars from rows 12 & 13 and running 21st and 22nd in the early stages, the windshields on both Audis smeared with oil sprayed out by another car making visibility an issue.
At mid-distance Bell and Osborne were 18th and 19th moments prior to pitting to Brown and Patterson, the #23 and #22 Audis placed 17th and 21st after all compulsory pit-stops were completed.
Patterson challenging team-mate Brown for 19th with seven minutes remaining was tagged in to a spin by the #12 Mercedes, Zak being handicapped by severe oversteer throughout his stint.
#22 Draper Tools – Audi R8 LMS
Joe Osborne (GB). Age: 22. Born: Bedford, GB. Lives: Olney, Buckinghamshire, GB:
"The tires had little grip when I took over from Mark in Saturday's race but they hung in well until the finish. I wasn't in a battle with anyone so could go at my own pace. Sunday's race was difficult starting that far back but I grabbed a couple of places in the opening lap before oil smeared across the windshield which made things difficult. The Audi felt good on Sunday but that's the frustrating thing, why were we so slow compared to the opposition? The Balance of Performance has not been equal concerning the Audi for any of this year's races. The team has done the best it could all year but it's been a frustrating season."
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 59. Born: Port Elizabeth, SA. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
"The expected chaos on the opening lap for Race One didn't materialize somewhat surprisingly and I gained places after a couple bumped each other. Everyone was well behaved and civil allowing me to get in to a good rhythm. It was an ‘okay' performance. I enjoyed the luxury of grip on Saturday but after Sunday's race, I now know why Joe was complaining. The second half of the race was tough with no rubber. Despite this, I caught Zak and was about to challenge when I was hit, very hard, into a spin by a Mercedes. Despite not enough points I've had a fantastic second FIA season."
#23 Legends of Motorsport – Audi R8 LMS
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 21. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
"Early on in Saturday's race after taking over from Zak, my Audi had good pace and I quickly caught up an Aston which had Joe [Osborne] just ahead. The Aston had a straight line speed advantage and unfortunately I wasted the best of my tires trying to get past and was then helpless in fending off cars from behind in the latter stages. An Aston hit me up the back at the start of Race Two but managed to get past. It would seem that he had a mechanical problem as my windshield was then covered in oil. Struggled on due to the lack of visibility, the Audi after an overnight change, handled better before the grip level disappeared near the end of the stint. The season hasn't produced the results we wanted while the lack of testing after switching to Michelin rubber hurt us. Despite it being a tough year, it's been hugely enjoyable working with United Autosports who have been phenomenal throughout."
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
"Our strategy was to wait a while before going out for Race One qualifying and then we had a bad break with two red flag incidents. I never got a decent lap in then I made a terrible start – probably my worst of the entire FIA season. I touched a car in Turn 7 then out-braked myself into the chicane. From then until handing over the car to Matt it was uneventful and boring. Sunday took up from where Saturday left off and was not much fun. The car was a big handful from when I took over from Matt. We wanted to alter the tire pressures during the pit-stop but because we needed to clean the screen, we had to leave the tires. We weren't competitive all weekend but that applied to all of the Audi teams. In terms of the season, switching from Dunlop to Michelin tires mid-season was the correct decision but I've been disappointed with the BoP this year. Our rivals have highs and lows but their 'sweet spot' seems to be wider than ours."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"The FIA series is hugely competitive and very hard fought. Matt and Joe are our ‘pro' drivers and they are only finishing off their second and third full seasons of racing respectively so their performances against some very experienced drivers are a massive credit. Zak has business commitments which restrict his testing opportunities but fights it out with the very best. Meanwhile Mark, who only took up racing a few years ago, has improved hugely – aggressive, focused and ultra-competitive. The Audi R8 LMS set a very high GT3 standard in 2009 but while the opposition have responded, the FIA arguably still regards the R8 LMS as the ‘standard bearer' in terms of its performance and the subsequent BoP restrictions have held us back over the past two years. Audi Sport and quattro GmbH have been magnificent to us – both on and off-event – and I'd like to thank them for the past two years – they could not have been kinder or treated us any better."
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.
Date of issue: Sunday October 16, 2011
- 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 Audi information, please contact:
Audi UK Sport Press
T +44 1564 824600
M +44 7801 859502
For further McLaren information and on-event at Macau, please contact:
M +44 7919 186291