Tuesday, November 29, 2011

United Autosports Bids For British GT Crown

  • United Autosports returns to British GT for second season with updated Audi R8 LMS GT3 car
  • Ambitious Leeds-based team focuses on British Championship title with proven race and championship-winning Audi R8 LMS
  • Exclusive two-day Monza test scheduled for February 2012
Leeds-based United Autosports plans to campaign an Audi R8 LMS sportscar in the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship in a bid to take the title it so narrowly missed out on this year.
The team was one of the front-running outfits in 2011, having taken several pole positions and led the championship for majority of the season with drivers Matt Bell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK) and Mike Guasch (Palo Alto, CA).
Co-owned by American, Zak Brown and Briton, Richard Dean, the United Autosports team - having already finalised its plans to contest the Blancpain Endurance Series - has turned its attention to running a second program in the British GT Championship with the Audi R8 LMS sportscar. With the sole intention of taking the 2012 title, the young team is putting together a comprehensive package for the best line-up of winning drivers available to it.
The Audi R8 LMS is one of the most successful GT cars in the history of the sport, having taken over 100 race wins to date, and already the Anglo-American team has confirmed one Audi R8 LMS entry with the series organisers for next year’s British GT series with the intention of adding a second for the right driver combination. The United Autosports car will be the latest 2012 specification, the Audi R8 having conquered the opposition with recent dominant performances and victories in the 2011 Spa 24 hours, Blancpain Endurance Series and Macau GT race.
Organiser, SRO Motorsports Group, has a seven-meeting calendar scheduled for 2012 featuring the UK’s best circuits, Oulton Park, Rockingham, Snetterton and the Grand Prix circuits of Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Donington Park. The 2012 overseas round, meanwhile, will take place on the German Grand Prix circuit at the Nürburgring. Once again SRO is repeating the successful mix of one, two and three-hour races for next season’s Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Entering its third season of GT racing, United Autosports has already achieved over and above all expectations in 2011, and next year the team has its sights firmly set on its first major GT sportscar title.
Zak Brown (USA), Co-Owner and CEO of United Autosports:
"It's great to be back in British GT with Audi. We were very successful in 2011 winning our first race and being a contender for the championship throughout the season. We have high expectations for 2012 and hope to continue our winning form."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"We firmed up our Blancpain Endurance Series team and driver line-up a couple of weeks ago with the McLaren MP4-12C, and have now decided to keep two of our three Audi R8 LMS cars. This was having considered how the Audi took a major performance leap forward with its recent Blancpain series updates. We have the capacity to run a second program as we did in 2011 and although for us, this is a late decision, we have plenty of time to work through our driver line-up options. We have an exclusive two-day test at Monza in early February and I expect everything to be in place by that time."
Provisional calendar 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship
07-09 Apr: Oulton Park
TBA: Nürburgring GP
26/27 May: Rockingham
23/24 Jun: Brands Hatch GP
04/05 Aug: Snetterton 300
08/09 Sep: Silverstone GP
29/30 Sep: Donington Park GP
All dates and circuits are provisional and subject to change
- ENDS -
For immediate release:
29th November 2011
Interested drivers with budget should contact Richard Dean: Richard@Unitedautosports.com
Or for further information please contact:
Linda Keen
Press Officer
United Autosports
T: +44 1424 250840
M: +44 7745 121790
Email: linda@unitedautosports.com
Skype: lindakeen

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Watts and United Autosports Bring McLaren Home for Superb Podium in Macau

§    Watts takes fantastic third in McLaren’s Macau début
§    Meins finishes in fine seventh after race-long battle in Audi R8 LMS
§    United Autosports scores first podium with McLaren in Macau and ends 2011 season on a high
Britain’s Danny Watts (Thornborough), brought the stunning GR Asia-sponsored McLaren MP4-12C GT3 home for a superb third place in Macau on Sunday in a race of attrition and confusion, while Richard Meins gained a place from his grid start to take the closest possible seventh in the United Autosports Audi A8 LMS.
Scheduled for 12 laps, the Star River – Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup race was abruptly halted on the third lap after a massive accident at Mandarin involving Frank Yu’s Ford GT, Eddie Yau (Porsche 911) and John Shen (Ferrari F430 GT) with Yuk Lung Siu spinning his Lamborghini Gallardo to avoid the mêlée. The whole crash had been set off by Akihiro Tsuzuki’s Audi, which had dumped oil on the track at Mandarin.
There was a lengthy delay of over an hour as the organisers cleared the wreckage but this gave the United Autosports team a chance to check the brakes and ABS issue on Watts’ GR Asia-sponsored McLaren.

To add to the confusion, the restart was originally scheduled for seven laps but as the cars moved away from the grid, the restart was run under the safety car for two laps with only five laps of racing under the green flags.

Italian Edoardo Mortara soared away in the factory Audi A8 LMS, just as he had before the stoppage, leaving Watts to argue over second with Japan’s Keita Sawa (Lamborghini LP-560). The pair fought tooth and nail over the narrow track and on the fifth lap, the McLaren was climbing all over the Lamborghini trying to find a way by.

Meanwhile Hong Kong-based Briton, Meins was having his own battle with Tomonobu Fujii (Aston Martin DBRS9) and Weng Sun Mok (Ferrari F458), the trio circulating the twisty street circuit bumper to bumper for the remaining laps.

Another accident on lap seven was narrowly averted after two spinners blocked the track but managed to get going again without being collected, as the leaders continued their relentless pace at the front.

With two laps remaining, Mortara continued stretching his lead while Sawa and Watts were comfortable in the podium positions. The British driver was a further 10 seconds ahead of fourth place Rodolfo Avila’s Porsche 911, ultimately giving the McLaren a great third place on its first visit to the Guai Circuit and Watts’ 10th anniversary race in Macau.

Meins held on for a superb seventh place, a mere 0.318 seconds behind his race-long rival, Mok, Richard having found that overtaking the Ferrari in the time remaining was just not possible, but still managed to set his fastest lap of the race in the process of hunting down the man in front.

It was an excellent result for the young United Autosports team to end the 2011 season, and the Leeds-based Anglo-American sportscar outfit now sets its sights on 2012 and the winter GT Endurance races in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bathurst.

Danny Watts (GB). Age 31. Born: Aylesbury, UK. Lives: Thornborough, nr Buckingham, GB

“I’m very happy with third for the first time here with the McLaren. We’ve learned a huge amount this weekend, developed it and moved it forward throughout the whole four days, so to get a podium on its début is just fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Every year the standard gets higher and higher, the drivers turn up in better cars all the time, and it’s fantastic for the category that twice Macau Formula 3 winner and works DTM driver, Edoardo Montara, turns up in his Audi. You have to be on your toes, and I think collectively as a team, we did a great job all weekend.

“At any normal circuit braking issues wouldn’t be so much of a problem because you’ve got plenty of run off, but in Macau, you want to have confidence in your brake pedal because the track’s lined by barriers and if you out-brake yourself by two metres you hit the wall. So unfortunately I had to bring my braking point back a little bit, which meant we lost a little bit of time, but apart from that the car’s handling was excellent, really responsive, good traction, great rear end, and overall the car was really strong.”

Richard Meins (GB). Age 56. Born: Beckenham, UK. Lives: Stanley, Hong Kong.

“That was brilliant and I must say I really enjoyed the race. Obviously we had a long stop because of the big accident, which was a bit unfortunate. The car was great and I got the pace I thought I should have got yesterday - three seconds faster than I’d been round here before - so I’m extremely happy.

“The guys at the front were good and you have to be quick through Mandarin to overtake and I wasn’t really going to do that because it was pretty messy there. The Ford GT went off just in front of me and the other Audi - with the Japanese driver - the back caught fire, there was loads of oil coming out and that was just before Mandarin. I was behind so I could see it and backed right off. Frank Yu was slightly in front of me and when I got round Mandarin there was Frank facing the other way and hurtling towards the right hand side barrier. My next concern was which way is he going to go? Anyway, I missed him as he shot in front of me. I guess everybody else was so far behind they hadn’t seen it happen and then it was complete carnage. It’s Macau; you don’t have small accidents here. I feel sorry for those other guys as there was a lot of damage, but it you finish Macau and the car’s in shape and you’ve done okay, then you should be happy really.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports.

“It’s a shame the race was in two halves with a big accident, but thankfully everybody was okay. It just shows what can happen around Macau. To get two cars back in one piece and running well compared to some of the cars that were coming back is a relief. Danny was driving well within himself but there were not enough laps after the red flag to really challenge. This McLaren development car was delivered to us on the day it flew to Asia, so we had very little time to get to know it. The fact it came here and ran trouble free is a tribute to McLaren GT and I’m really excited United Autosports have achieved a first podium with the car, which really bodes well for the future. There is so much potential in the car; I can’t wait to get my hands on the new definitive 2012 customer version!

“Richard drove very well in the Audi; very good judgement and luck to miss the accident but he certainly got himself through there. He was fastest at the restart, set his fastest lap of the race by quite a long way, and if the track had been wider or a few more laps he’d definitely have made up another place. I’m pleased for Richard and thought he drove exceptionally well. This Audi now heads to Dubai for the 24 Hours in January and then a little tour of the Middle East and Australia.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011


§    Britain’s Danny Watts grabs third despite heavy traffic and red flags
§    Richard Meins brings Audi R8 LMS through to eighth
§    United Autosports gain valuable experience, time and data with the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 development car

Britain’s Danny Watts (Thornborough) débuted the magnificent McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in Macau on Thursday and then drove the GR Asia-backed development car to a fine third overall qualifying position today despite heavy traffic on the tight, twisty circuit and red flags which halted proceedings mid-way.

Fellow Brit, Hong Kong-based Richard Meins brought the United Autosports Audi R8 LMS GT3 through to a confidence-boosting eighth place on the grid, despite a loss of front aerodynamics after a brush with the wall during pre-qualifying on Friday.

On the whole it was a very satisfactory qualifying performance for the Leeds-based Anglo-American team returning to Macau for only its second visit, and the first with the McLaren MP4-12C development car, which was making its attention-grabbing inaugural appearance at the Guia Circuit.

Sponsored by GR Asia, the two cars and drivers – both of whom were racing at Macau for the 10th year - had their first run on an unusually wet track on Thursday in practice but neither driver was pushing too hard in the damp conditions and heavy traffic.

However, the track was dry for yesterday’s pre-qualifying run and both Watts and Meins were running well until the session was red-flagged half way through due to an accident at Mandarin. Meins had good track position, getting out in front of the pack until he spun at the final corner and glanced the barrier with his front bumper. He was able to continue and still managed a creditable seventh fastest time overall.

Watts was less fortunate at the re-start and had to endure heavy traffic leaving the pits and was therefore baulked extensively.

Today’s qualifying session proved to be a major challenge for both United Autosports drivers to get a clean run, and with only 20 minutes to set a time, there was only enough time for one flying lap before the red flags came out for Hong Kong’s Samson Chan in the Ford GT3, who crashed into the wall at Dona Maria Bend.

At this point Watts and Meins were holding third and seventh respectively, but there was only 13 minutes on the clock, and when another spinner brought out the yellow flags, the GR Asia-backed drivers were prevented from making any further progress. A ‘long’ brake pedal in the McLaren hampered Watts further and then a stricken Ginetta G50 spoiled a third potentially quick lap when the yellow flags came out again, at which point, Watts chose to return to the pits with 25 seconds remaining in order to save his tyres.

Meins meanwhile, was also baulked by heavy traffic and thus ended the session bumped down to eighth on the last lap by Japan’s Tomonobu Fujii in an Aston Martin DBRS9.

That leaves it all to play for in tomorrow’s race which starts at 9.00am local time for the Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup, which will be a 12-lap counter around the 3.8-mile lap circuit.

Provisional Timetable (all times are local):
Sunday 20 November - 09.00 – 10.00 Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup – Race, 12 Laps

Danny Watts (GB). Age 31. Born: Aylesbury, UK. Lives: Thornborough, nr Buckingham, GB

“I’m not disappointed with third; obviously I wanted to be on pole position for the race, which is the best place to start round here as there’s limited overtaking opportunities. It’s a very tight and twisty circuit, so qualifying is everything, but the biggest thing I’m disappointed with is the size of the gap - it’s over four seconds - to Mortara on pole position! I’m very close to Japan’s Keita Sawa, who is second, and I think he and I will have a good race tomorrow. Mortara is excellent around here anyway; he’s won the Formula 3 race twice and he’s a top quality driver, but certainly not four seconds quicker.

“I think that’s about the maximum I could go with the car without doing anything silly. We’ve got a little bit to find but to be fair the car does feel quite good. I had a long brake pedal towards the end but it’s my favourite circuit and I really enjoyed it. It’s always the same at Macau with crashes so you need to find a clear lap; that is key. There was a red flag in the session and a bit of cement dust down but that was soon cleared up. The pre-qualifying yesterday was good in terms of mileage and developing the car, and for me to dial myself into the McLaren a little bit more. It’s really about the team learning the McLaren as well and we’ve made really good progress this weekend, but let’s just go for it tomorrow in the race.”

Richard Meins (GB). Age 56. Born: Beckenham, UK. Lives: Stanley, Hong Kong.
“I knew what I had to do from yesterday after I spun and touched the wall. The problem was the car was making horrible noises afterwards. Going through the first corner and Mandarin, it was really making lots of noise with bodywork rubbing and scratching on the road. I lost a second and a half or so in sector one, and that would have put me up close to fourth or fifth today, but not to be in the end.

“I finished yesterday’s session seventh, but got bumped down to eighth today but I’m not so worried about that; I’m more interested in my own time. I want to do the best I can and I don’t think I’ve achieved what I could have today, so it’s a little bit frustrating. Thursday’s wet session was interesting and I quite enjoyed it. You don’t often drive here in the wet and I actually like it and I would be really happy for a wet race because it’s a leveller. I’d prefer a wet race but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports.

“We’ve had no major dramas with our cars but there have been cars in the wall, cars on fire, a busy track, and a huge speed differential this year from the front to back of the grid. The front of the grid’s getting more and more competitive; there are really serious factory-supported cars and quality drivers. Mortara is probably as good as it gets round here in Macau, combined with the factory Audi. Danny’s done a good job. We’re five or six seconds quicker than we were here last year with Danny, so we’re a bit disappointed with P3 because Danny’s very capable of being on the front row but with the usual Macau traffic, potentially the best lap was probably held back for Danny. We’re still very much developing the McLaren, putting more mileage on it and sending more data back to the factory and CRS. I’m sure they’ll be pleased to see the car third on the grid and hopefully have a good race.

“Richard’s gone quicker than he qualified last year against tougher competition and the data says there was a lot more left for him. It wasn’t out of the question for him to be front two or three rows, and as it turned out eighth on the grid is not a bad effort. It was an unfortunate incident yesterday on cold tyres and low tyre pressures when he spun and glanced the wall. You could say unlucky but it was also lucky as we could see the damage was only superficial and we kept him out on track. I think there’s more time to come in Richard, so I’m pleased.

“There’s a lot of racing today, so more rubber’s going down and the track’s getting cleaner and therefore faster, so I expect it to be even faster. I think the top three are under the lap record already so expect the lap record to be broken tomorrow comfortably. We’re third and eighth on the grid, it’s an early race tomorrow, so fingers crossed we can improve positions on both cars; we’ve certainly got the right drivers who know the place really well and who race well here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Watts steps out with ‘Strictly’ McLaren for its Macau début

   Car featured on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing takes to the streets of Macau
   Le Mans class winner Watts aims for Macau GT victory at the third time of asking
   GR Asia-sponsored McLaren MP4-12C GT3 development car can be a winner on first Macau outing

Danny Watts from Thornborough has high hopes that his partnership with the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in the forthcoming Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup will provide the pairing with a perfect quick step of their own as they take to the streets of Macau this weekend (November 17 - 20th).
Holly Valance and Artem Chigvintsev took a spin in a McLaren MP4-12C on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Read more on the Daily Mail website: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2057775/Strictly-Come-Dancing-2011-Alex-Jones-paces-James-Jordan.html#ixzz1drB0pkob
Over 11 million viewers watched McLaren’s Ron Dennis put the MP4-12C through its paces recently as he gave Strictly Come Dancing contestants, Holly Valance and Artem Chigvintsev, a hair-raising ride in the super sportscar in an attempt to put some fizz into their fast-moving jive dance.
However, former Le Mans class winner Watts won’t be giving any rides as he races the GR Asia Ltd-sponsored development car in anger at Macau for his 10th year in 2011. And this will also be his second successive year with Leeds-based Anglo-American team United Autosports, for which he is also employed as a driver coach.
“It was quite interesting watching Ron Dennis put the car through its paces on Strictly Come Dancing as it gave people an insight into what the car can actually do, what its capabilities are, how fast it is and how good the handling is”, said 31-year old Watts.
Watts drove the McLaren MP4-12C sports racer at Silverstone for the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Championship last month, and has no doubt the car will suit the Monaco-style Macau event down to the ground. He continued: “The circuit is quite a tight, twisty, bumpy street track which is pretty dirty. The car apparently has got a good change of direction, it’s got great traction and a huge amount of power and I think it will be well-suited to the track.
“Macau is my favourite track in the world. I’ve been on the podium the last three years with a second and two thirds, so this year - my 10th anniversary of racing in Macau - I want to put that right and win it. I’m incredibly grateful to Hong Kong-based Tim Huxley and GR Asia Ltd for making this happen for me every year in Macau – the level of support is just fantastic – and coupled with the professionalism from United Autosports, it really is the perfect package.”
Danny Watts raced for United Autosports in 2010
Watts considers Audi driver Edoardo Mortara his main opposition, the Italian being the only driver to have won the coveted Macau Formula 3 race twice. However, Danny is no stranger to winning in Macau either, having taken victory in the Formula Asia 2000 race in 2002, before changing disciplines again to lift the trophy in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race in 2007.
United Autosports will also be running Hong Kong-based Briton, Richard Meins in the team’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the prestigious GT event. Meins is also a Macau regular and has competed on the Guia Circuit in many different formulas over the years.
The 58th running of the prestigious Macau 3.8-mile lap races, which attracts over 300 drivers, is headlined by the F3 Macau Grand Prix, and is the only street race in the world with both car and motorcycle competition taking place on the same weekend. This year the Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup will be a 12-lap counter, two laps more than last year, clearly denoting the popularity of the over-subscribed event.
In addition to the high profile Formula 3 and GT races, the four-day event also features the FIA WTCC - Guia Race of Macau, the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup, the City of Dreams Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, as well as a road sport challenge race.
United Autosports / GR Asia's McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car that Watts will race this weekend
Provisional Timetable (all times are local):
Thursday, 17 November - 12.00 – 12.30 Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup – Practice 1
Friday, 18 November - 13.55 – 14.15 Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup – Practice 2
Saturday 19 November - 12.50 – 13.10 Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup – Qualifying
Sunday 20 November - 09.00 – 10.00 Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup – Race, 12 Laps
For further information please contact:
Linda Keen
Press Officer
United Autosports
T: +44 1424 250840
M: +44 7745 121790
Skype: lindakeen

For further information on-event, please contact: Jay Ashton M: +44 7919 186291 (UK)
M: +852 968 07642 (HK) E: jay@unitedautosports.com
Skype: Jay_Ashton