Monday, January 30, 2012

United Autosports Sets Out 2012 Blancpain Title Intent With Star-Studded Driver Announcement

      Le Mans 24 Hour winner and double American Le Mans Series Champion David Brabham joins United Autosports in title bid
·      Massive coup for team as McLaren GT-factory driver, GP2 race winner and British Formula 3 Champion, Álvaro Parente joins Leeds-based outfit
·      United Autosports-managed exciting youngster Matt Bell joins champions in mighty Pro Class McLaren MP4-12C GT3 entry

A United Autosports McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car in action at the Autosport Show in the UK earlier this month

World class drivers David Brabham (Australia) and Álvaro Parente (Portugal) will join United Autosports’ highly-rated youngster, Matt Bell (England) for one the most impressive line-ups in the six-round 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series; and with the sole intention of taking the Pro Class crown.

The Leeds-based team has put together a trio of winning drivers in one of its two all-new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars, and each of these all-out racers is hungry to add the prestigious Blancpain title to his portfolio.

David Brabham, the youngest son of three-times F1 World Champion, Sir Jack Brabham, has established himself as a world class sportscar driver. Following a season in Formula 1 in 1990 with the Brabham team - originally founded by his father - and another brief encounter in 1994, David moved into sportscars, the pinnacle of his career being winning at Le Mans. He took double GT1 class titles for Aston Martin Racing in 2007/8 preceding the outright victory with Peugeot. He also raised the bar by clinching the American Le Mans Series title twice in 2009 and 2010.

Co-driving alongside Brabham will be exciting Portuguese racer and McLaren GT-factory driver Álvaro Parente, the 2005 British Formula 3 and 2007 Renault 3.5 Champion joining United Autosports as a very valuable addition to the Anglo-American team. Parente is a race winner in the Formula 1 feeder series GP2 and a recent McLaren signing to develop the new 12C GT3 sportscar. Parente’s experience behind the wheel of the McLaren supercar will prove invaluable as the team switches marques this year.

Managed by United Autosports and youngest of the team’s #22 Pro car line-up, is 22-year old Matt Bell, who has been ear-marked as a future sportscar champion. Matt has been a revelation during the first two seasons with the team, and gets his big chance in 2012 alongside two extremely quick and proven champions.

As previously announced the #23 Pro/Am entry crew is equally impressive with former Formula 1 driver and Indycar race winner Mark Blundell spearheading the crew in his first full-time racing commitment since finishing his Indycar career in 2000. The Royston-based driver will share the McLaren cockpit with United Autosports’ team co-owner and regular sportscar racer, American Zak Brown, and US-domiciled South African, Mark Patterson to produce a second formidable squad in the European series.

The two-car McLaren MP4-12C GT3 team heads to Monza on February 14/15th for its initial shakedown and test session with all six drivers.

Still an exceptionally young team, United Autosports - which is co-owned by American Zak Brown and Briton, Richard Dean - enters its third season of GT racing in 2012, with the very specific goal of taking its first major title in sportscar racing.

David Brabham (Aus), Age 45. Born: Wimbledon, UK. Lives: Henley-on-Thames, UK:

“I am very excited to be joining United Autosports; I have seen them in the paddock and on the race track and I was always impressed with their presentation and performances. They are a small team with big ambitions, so I am very happy to part of the team. I’ve had over 20 years of racing at a pretty good level and have worked for many factory teams, like BMW, McLaren, Panoz, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bentley, Acura and Peugeot, so I have a lot of knowledge in developing cars, racing them and seeing how best to work with people and help get the most out of them. 

“I raced a McLaren F1 supercar in Japan in 1996 and won the Japanese GT500 Championship, so it is great to race with them again. The McLaren MP4-12C GT3 is a beautiful looking car and I am sure it will be a lot of fun to drive. I am really looking forward to driving it with two fast team mates, and as always my expectations and goals are to win. I saw Álvaro race in Formula 3 and he was exceptional and has become a top driver in the sport. I don't know Matt that well, but if the team have signed him up, then he must be good. I have known Richard Dean for a long time and we raced together in Formula 3 in 1989, so it’s great we will be working together to help propel United Autosports into a winning team this year.”

Álvaro Parente (POR), Age 27. Born: Porto, Portugal. Lives: Porto, Portugal:

“I'm very happy to be racing for United Autosports in the Blancpain series and I know United is a strong and ambitious team, and that we will have all the correct ingredients to have a great year. We have a strong driver line-up and together with the team and the MP4-12C GT3 we will be looking good this year, and I can't wait to start racing! The championship is competitive and I really like the tracks we will be racing at such Spa, Monza and Silverstone where I have had some very good races.”

Matt Bell (UK), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives: Barningham, UK:

“This will be my third season since United Autosports’ co-owners Richard Dean and Zak Brown plucked me out of Ginetta G50s, and I can't wait for it! Having a good relationship with your team makes it much easier to turn up and get on with the job of driving. The Blancpain Endurance Series had phenomenal success in its first season last year and seems to have grown yet again for 2012. We took part in the Spa 24 Hours last year and it was an extremely competitive grid so I'm expecting more of the same this season.

“Although I haven't been out in the McLaren yet it looks fantastic, and with the company’s pedigree in both Formula 1 and sportscar racing, I'm expecting it to be an excellent car to drive too; it certainly looked very fast in the selected development races last year! What I'm most looking forward to though, is our driver line-up; to be sharing a car with McLaren driver Álvaro, as well as one of the most successful sportscar drivers in recent history in David Brabham, is a mouth-watering prospect and an excellent opportunity for me too.”

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

“Zak and I have been working hard on putting together our ideal line-up for our Pro car entry into the 2012 Blancpain series, and this is it! With Brabham, Parente and Bell we have every chance of success, and collectively the whole team has its eye on the goal of taking the title. I couldn’t be happier with the quality, speed and experience we have in the driver line-up. These guys will help further develop the car and the team, and will get every last 1/100th of a second out of the new McLaren MP4-12C GT3!”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

United Autosports Commits To December’s Gulf 12 Hours Event

• Team commits to Abu Dhabi race with two McLaren MP4-12C GT3s

• Strong showing by top teams contributes to return

• Sensational podium on début after 12 hours racing for UK-based team

Following on from yesterday’s inaugural Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and its sensational podium position, United Autosports can confirm its entry in the second running of the event.

In a move from this year’s January slot, the next Gulf 12 Hours will be later this year in December 2012. The exact date has yet to be announced.

The Anglo-American team confirmed its entry in this inaugural event back in October and remained committed to being on the grid with one of its Audi R8 LMS cars, in which it last night was in the lead battle up to a finish line sprint.

Although the event is still very much in its infancy, United Autosports joined world-class, international teams such as AF Corse (Italian), Kessel Racing (Swiss), Autorlando (Italian) and Aylezo Motorsports (Malasian) on the starting line in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Team owners Richard Dean and Zak Brown have been so impressed with the track, organization and competition that they have, without hesitation, agreed to enter the team’s two McLaren MP4-12C GT3s for the next fixture.

Above: United Autosports will return to Abu Dhabi in December with two McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:

“It’s a difficult job getting an event up and running from nothing so I applaud everyone involved. It’s been professionally run - the venue is out of this world, and to have high-class competition such as AF Corse and Kessel Racing has been great.

“We [United Autosports] love doing one-off events like this and others such as Macau, Daytona 24 and – only last week – the Dunlop Dubai 24 Hours. This event’s got the potential to be right up there with the best of them, especially with this fantastic circuit as host.

“We will have had the 12C GT3 for a full season by December and I’m sure I’ll have no problems in filling the driving seats.”

Andrea Ficarelli (IT), Director Driving Force Limited, Organizers of the Gulf 12 Hours
"For us, this first race is to 'break a wall'; to move it from being a project to an established event. So now everyone can see that this event is something real and it has all of the qualities to become a major event in endurance racing. Even if the number of teams for the first race has not been very high, the quality has been very, very high and it is the first sign of the potential of this event."

“We are aware that there is very strong interest from teams to come here and this confirmation that United Autosports will run two McLarens in December is exactly what we were hoping for and we obviously welcome it. We have had top teams from Italy, from Switzerland and the Anglo-American team United Autosports, which all contribute to making the event even more international.”

Above: One of United Autosports' McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars in the
Live Action Arena at the Autosport International Show in the UK earlier this month
Autosport Show photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Friday, January 20, 2012

United Autosports Gulf 12 Hour Victory Thwarted By Pace Car With Just 30 Minutes To Run

·      Dynamic performance by Dalziel,  Potolicchio and Popow claims team a fantastic third place in Audi R8 LMS

Suspense-filled race provides drama to the finish after 12 hours

In one of the closest GT3 races in history United Autosports in the lead battle up to finish line sprint

In one of the tensest finishes to any endurance race, the United Autosports trio of Scot Ryan Dalziel and Venezuelan pair, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow drove an inspired race, leading the inaugural running of the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on yesterday with just 30 minutes to the finish.

With half an hour of the race left, Dalziel had the lead and was heading for certain victory until the safety car negated the team’s hard-earned advantage. Once back under the green flags and right on the tail of the Audi R8 LMS, the two Ferraris of Marco Cioci and Philipp Peter just picked him off on the long straights and a frustrated Dalziel took a valiant third just place 9.884s behind the winner after 299 laps and 12 hours of racing. The top three GT3 cars were covered by just nine seconds at the flag.

Keeping up the momentum from the Dubai 24 Hours, United Autosports campaigned a sole Audi R8 LMS for the Duncan Batteries, Taxand and Soloson-sponsored drivers in Abu Dhabi, Dalziel posting a 2m11.976s best lap time for the Anglo-American squad to start third in the race.

There was plenty of action around the 3.45-mile circuit throughout the 12 hours, which started in daylight and finished in the evening under the infamous Yas Island floodlights. The 12 hour race was split into two parts of six hours duration each with a 90 minute break in between.

Dalziel started the race for United Autosports, maintaining his fourth grid slot at the start and successfully fending off an attack by one of the AF Corse cars. Potolicchio brought the car up to third with Popow getting into the driving seat after 81 laps and taking second place following a rapid pit stop by the crew.

A longer stop to change front brake pads with 1hr 37 minutes remaining dropped the Audi back to third and now it was imperative to stay on the same lap as the two Ferraris ahead. Popow, now in the #5 Audi, locked his front bumper onto the leading Ferrari and with eight minutes to run, forged his way past to finish the first six hours in third place and crucially on the same lap as the Ferraris.

Potolicchio was back at the wheel for the start of the second part of the race and was almost immediately in trouble when the #90 AF Corse Ferrari ran straight into him, losing Enzo about 17 seconds to recover from a resulting spin. When the safety car was deployed again, Enzo made his mandatory pit stop handing the reins to Alex, who began to hone in on the #3 Ferrari. Another change to Dalziel and the Audi needed another set of brake pads, which the team changed in record time, exiting the pits just as the safety car was released onto the circuit yet again.

With just over two hours left, Potolicchio was involved in a do-or-die dogfight with the Kessel Ferrari, the Venezuelan snatching second after a riveting performance. The next pit stop coincided perfectly with another safety car period, this time while Popow was in the car, and he was able to hold station in second place behind the #3 Ferrari, which was a pit stop behind.

However, the final half hour was simply nail-biting as the team willed Dalziel to stay ahead to the finish. When the safety car was deployed with 36 minutes left on the clock, his lead was eroded and as the race went green again, he could no longer hold off the two Ferraris which had the pace on the straights and he brought the Audi home in third for a fine podium finish.

Ryan Dalziel (GB)Age 29. Born: Glasgow, Scotland UK. Lives: Orlando, FL, USA:

“We knew that we were up against the factory Ferrari 458s and United Autosports gave us a really good car. We all drove the wheels off it all day - all the guys did an incredible job. We went a little bit off-strategy, but came out in the lead and everything was going perfectly until the last safety car which was the last thing we wanted.

”It was a difficult race - for sure second was on the cards, but we got a podium; third place is good. We accomplished everything we came out here to do - we wanted to represent North American and South American racing, and we mixed it with some really good guys and great teams so we’re really happy to be part of this. We’re very grateful to United Autosports and between the three of us, thank you to everybody for having us.”

Enzo Potolicchio (VE), Age 43. Lives: Caracas, Venezuela:

“The strategy worked really well - I was able to pass the leading Ferrari and held off the other one coming out of the pits which was really good to lead for a while. We actually pulled out a little bit and I handed the car over in the lead. We did some really good stints and kept the car on the lead lap most of the race. It's unfortunate - we could have had a little bit more luck but unfortunately the luck wasn't there for us.”

Alex Popow (VE), Age 36. Lives: Lecheria, Venezuela:

“This has been a sweet and sour experience; in the beginning we were struggling with trying to go six hours with the brakes and that's one of the things that didn't work for us and we lost some time [changing the pads]. But the car was great. Ryan did a good job; the Ferraris were so fast on the straight but we were faster on the slow parts of the track.

”The best part of the race for me, the moment when I was most inspired was trying to go to the end of the first 6-hours on the limit and it paid off because in the end we were able to keep it on the same lead lap to start the second part of the race on the lead lap, which was crucial to being in contention for the last 15 minutes.”

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

“It doesn’t get much closer than that; 12 hours racing, three cars covered by nine seconds. I thought we had it there but the safety car that came out with 20 minutes to go cancelled out our lead and putting the three cars together made for quite a race at the end. We had a good strategy on our initial pit stops and it gave us something to play with at the end which put us back into the lead, so credit to all the team on that.

“I couldn’t have been happier to be in the lead after 11 hours and 45 minutes. You just don’t expect it to be a sprint race like that for 12 straight hours. AF Corse, a great team, and Kessel, they’ve all won championships before, so it feels hurtful right now that we’ve got so close and we’re only third but it’s no disgrace to be beaten by class teams like that and it shows how far we’ve come. We didn’t make a mistake and I think we made time up. Unfortunately the Audi’s a little bit heavier on brakes than the Ferrari, so we had to do an extra brake pad change in both races, which the Ferraris didn’t, so I was very pleased to make that time back up in the pit stops again.

"Long distance races are all about team work and strategy but the three drivers, I have to say, were very close, very evenly matched; they didn’t make a mistake and really kept us in with a shout right to the end.”

Photo credit: John Dagys

Thursday, January 19, 2012

United Autosports Trio Qualify In Strong Third For Gulf 12 Hours

 ·      Starworks Motorsport drivers take Audi R8 LMS to superb top three in qualifying at Yas Marina Circuit

·      Competitive GT3 field leaders covered by less than half a second

·      United Autosports highly-impressed with fantastic Formula 1 circuit

United Autosports continued its account in the Middle East for the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi today with a blistering third fastest time in qualifying, Scot Ryan Dalziel and Venezuelan pair, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow, planting the Audi R8 LMS firmly third in class on the grid for tomorrow’s 12 hour race.

Sixteen cars have been entered for the first ever endurance race around the state-of-the-art 3.45-mile circuit on Yas Island, with a combination of GT3, GT4 and GTC-level Cup cars, as well as FIA CN-class purpose-built prototypes. As in Dubai for last week’s 24 Hour race, United Autosports has the sole Audi R8 LMS on the grid.

The Leeds-based team was one of only three outfits competing in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with AF Corse’s Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 and the Autorlando Porsche 997 GT3-R.  In addition, the world class competition also features a second AF Corse Ferrari and the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458. The United Autosports Audi was one of several top GT cars juggling the times throughout the four qualifying sessions and covered by half a second at the finish, with Dalziel's 2:11.976s best lap time for the Anglo-American squad.

All three drivers put in excellent performances to finish qualifying third in class, and the very first Gulf 12 Hours race - with the Avelon Formula 1 Wolf GB 08 CN2 class car on pole position - begins tomorrow in daylight and ends under the floodlights, which has given the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit an enigmatic ambiance.

Having set some of the fastest laps during the Dubai 24 Hour race last weekend, the Duncan Batteries, Taxand and Soloson-sponsored United Autosports Audi is expected to produce an inspired performance tomorrow.

After the first six hours – during which time the teams must make five stops each - there will be a 90-minute break during which time the teams will be able to work on the cars before the second six hours starts during the night hours and another five stops during that period. Race 1 takes the green flag tomorrow at 09:30 am local (12:30 am ET/05:30am GMT), with Race 2 set for 5 pm local (08:00 am ET/13:00pm GMT). 

Ryan Dalziel (GB), Age 29. Born: Glasgow, Scotland UK. Lives: Orlando, FL, USA:

“It's been good today - what an amazing place to come to and experience for the first time. After seeing it on TV, for us just coming over here and being able to tick one of those famous venues off your driver list has been excellent. The format [of the day] has been excellent; we've had lots of track time and all three of us are up to speed. We got a third fastest lap in qualifying and we're really happy with that; we're competitive against the Ferraris, and United Autosports has given us a very good, easy car to drive with the Audi R8 LMS. I'm just loving it and looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Enzo Potolicchio (VE), Age 43. Lives: Caracas, Venezuela:

"We got here yesterday and when you take a look at this beautiful place - probably the best track [I've been to]. It's very technical, very fast and we've only had an hour each to learn the track before qualifying but we are happy where we are and we'll have a good car for the race. We've been having a good run - we've qualified third with Ryan doing an excellent job at the end. The race strategy will just be to be fast and consistent; the Avon Tires have been good; there's no problems with dirt and sand like we had in Dubai. The Ferrari has shown some speed but we have shown we can be competitive."

Alex Popow (VE), Age 36. Lives: Lecheria, Venezuela:

“This is the best track I have ever been to. It's a very technical drive - you have to be fast, cautious and make no mistakes because there are walls and fences everywhere to catch you out. We have been getting to know the track since we already got to know the car in Dubai and actually we are very happy. Ryan just put the third fastest lap for qualifying which is nice. There are not many cars in the field but it will be a hard 12 hours - there are cars that will be very hard to beat and it will be a long race. We will go for it and as always try and win the race - it will not be easy, but for sure we will give it a shot."

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

“We’ve completed 700kms today, which doesn’t look a huge amount in laps but it’s a long lap around the Yas Marina circuit. There have been a lot of sessions and the Audi has gone absolutely faultlessly which I’m pleased about. After Dubai, we had some electrical parts flown out by Audi and we’ve changed all of those and we certainly haven’t had a problem today or anything showing on the diagnostics data either. All three drivers seem very happy and they’ve all been really quick. If this race had stayed with the event regulations where the aggregate of the three qualifying sessions - as in the three fastest laps by the three drivers averaged out - we would have been on pole comfortably because the three of them are very close and very competitive.

“I think the CN2 cars will be a problem tomorrow but hopefully their extra pit stop penalty will mean that at the end of the race, by our calculations, every six hours they lose two laps with the extra time they have to stay in the pits. They have an extra 45 seconds on each stop they do, which is five stops more than us. It’s a two-class race – a sports-protoype class and a GT class and in an effort to come out with a balance of performance across the two classes, the lighter more downforce sports-protoypes have got a longer pit stop than the GT cars, which hopefully by the end of the race equals itself out.

“It’s a great inaugural event on a fantastic circuit and United Autosports is honored to be here as part of it. The organizers couldn’t be more accommodating, this event is definitely going to get bigger and we’ll be part of it.”


Monday, January 16, 2012

United Autosports Races On To Abu Dhabi With Top Result On The Agenda

·      Busy team heads for the magical Yas Marina Circuit for inaugural Gulf 12 Hours

·      Dalziel back in action with rapid Venezuelan pair, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow in Audi R8 LMS

·      United Autosports aiming for top finish in Abu Dhabi

Ryan Dalziel, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow raced the
#36 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS in Dubai last week and will be out in Abu Dhabi later this week
With scarcely time to rest in between races, the United Autosports team left Dubai and travelled to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the Gulf 12 Hours, which starts on Thursday, January 19, with one of its Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars for Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel and Venezuelan pair, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow.

The Leeds-based team will be joined in Abu Dhabi by other race teams from around the world, the event featuring GT2, GT3 and GT4 cars, vehicles from one make series such as the Porsche Cup, FIA CN sports cars and touring cars.

The very first Gulf 12 Hours event – which takes the form of two six-hour races - will begin in daylight and end under the sparkling floodlights, creating the mystical atmosphere which has been made famous by the Formula 1 Grand Prix races in recent years. During the break between races, the teams will have just 40 minutes to work on the cars.

Having set some of the fastest laps during the Dubai 24 Hour race last weekend, Grand Am racer and winner of the prestigious 2010 Rolex 24 Daytona, US-based Dalziel is expected to produce a strong performance for the two races on Friday.

Dalziel’s regular Starworks Motorsport team mates, Potolicchio and Popow, proved to be two of the major finds of the 2011 Grand Am series, and were awarded the Rolex Series "Rookies of the Year" award last year.

All three drove exceptionally well in Dubai, setting fastest times while having their first experience with the rapid Audi R8 LMS, and they have their sights set on a top result at the evocative Yas Marina Circuit. The #36 Audi is sponsored by Duncan Batteries, Taxand and Soloson in Abu Dhabi.

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“We have arrived in Abu Dhabi and it is the most amazing facility! It is also amazing that as such a young team, United Autosports is competing at an event like this and on back-to-back weekends with the Dubai 24 hours. We have work to do but we are very confident and ready for the challenge.”

Thursday 19th January                    
09:00 – 09:50              Practice Session 1 (50m)
10:40 – 11:30              Practice Session 2 (50m)
12:00 - 12:25               Qualifying Driver 1 Group A (25m)
12:40 – 13:05              Qualifying Driver 1 Group B (25m)
13:05 – 14:00             Lunch Break
14:00 – 14:25              Qualifying Driver 2 Group A (25m)
14:40 – 15:05              Qualifying Driver 2 Group B (25m)
15:20 – 15:45              Qualifying Driver 3 Group A (25m)
16:00   - 16:25             Qualifying Driver 3 Group B (25m)
16:40 – 17:05              Qualifying Driver 4 Group A (25m)
17:20 – 17:45              Qualifying Driver 4 Group B (25m)
17:45 – 19:00                         Break
19:00 – 19:30              Night Practice Session 1 (30m)
19:45 – 20:00              Night Practice Session 2 (30m)
Friday 20th January                         
09:30                                       Race Start (Formation Lap)
15:30                                       Race 1 End
17:00                                       Race 2 Start (Formation Lap)
23:00                                       Race End
(NB: all times local; UK times -4 hours)

United Autosports Bring Both Audis To Finish A Gruelling Dubai 24 Hour Encounter

·      Ryan Dalziel brings home United Autosports #36 Audi R8 LMS in 19th in dusty Dubai

·      Bell and Dalziel set top six fastest laps of the entire race in 80-car grid

·      United Autosports campaigns the only two Audi R8 LMS cars in the race

Leeds-based United Autosports brought both its Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars – the only Audis on the packed grid - through for a hard-earned finish in Friday and Saturday’s tough Dunlop 24 Hours Dubai, both crews producing some of the fastest laps of the entire race.

In an event which attracted a massive 80-car entry, the scene was set for a high-profile 24 hour race in the hot and dry conditions. It even featured a late sandstorm which made working conditions for everyone at the Dubai Autodrome extremely challenging.

There were several manufacturer teams amongst the entry, including Mercedes and BMW, and many of the leading teams such as Ferrari's AF Corse and Lamborghini's Reiter Engineering. Bernd Schneider, racing for the Mercedes DTM team, and entries from the Lotus/Renault F1 team owners LUX and LOPEZ Racing, as well as a Saudi prince competing, indicated the high calibre of the event. 

Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel led his Starworks Motorsport team mates to a hard-fought 19th place finish, and along with Venezuelan duo, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow, all three pushed the Duncan Batteries, Taxand and Soloson-backed #36 Audi R8 LMS to its limit and ran comfortably inside the top 10. A gearbox change inevitably cost the #36 Audi over an hour and a half in the pits.

In the United Autosports sister car, Matt Bell (UK), Mark Patterson (USA), Frank Yu (HK) and Roger Wills (NZ) looked as if they were on course for an easy top 10 finish until their car too was struck by mechanical gremlins at different times during the round the clock race.

On Thursday, Potolicchio had set the fastest time for the team, the #36 Audi R8 LMS qualifying on the second row to start the seventh running of the Dunlop 24 Hours Dubai in a superb fourth grid position. Meanwhile Patterson snatched the fastest time in the sister #26 car to start seventh.

As the race entered the second half, young Matt Bell produced a series of stunning laps in the Gravity-sponsored Audi, and in the dark hours, the 22-year old was the quickest driver on the track at that time.

Frank Yu had contact with a backmarker in the dark early morning hours, which shot the bonnet up and necessitated another stop to change it and affect other minor repairs from the skirmish. However, later a wishbone failure generated from the earlier contact, required another pit stop and with two hours to the end, it was a question of getting both cars to the finish.

As the 24 hours drew to a close, Dalziel brought the #36 car across the line in 19th place while Wills finished the run for the #26 Audi in 29th.

The team now looks forward to next weekend’s Gulf 12H Abu Dhabi race at the Yas Marina Circuit, where it will be intent on greater reliability and a top finish for the one car entered for the Starworks Motorsport drivers of Dalziel, Potolicchio and Popow.

#26 Audi R8 LMS

Matt Bell (GB), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives: Barningham, nr Richmond UK:

“Obviously the first call is to finish and you always like to finish as high as you possibly can but we had a lot of problems during the race, and luck wasn't on our side in this one which was a great shame. The guys did a brilliant job to get the car out whenever we had a problem so we were just glad to finish and see the car home. Everybody did brilliantly; all the drivers and I’ve got to say well done to Roger, Frank and Mark. I enjoyed my 24 hours of Dubai and luckily for me most of my stints were trouble-free and when I went out I was able to keep my head down, put in some lap times and try and recuperate the time that we'd lost."

Mark Patterson (USA), Age 60. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, NY, USA:

“When the car was running well everybody felt very, very good. This is a wonderful track, and if you like sand dunes in your living room this is the place to race! I reckon both cars had a good shot at top 10 finishes and if you look at our times in the last two or three hours, with any of our drivers, we were running in the top three for lap times. The cars were good when they went but the errors were more than frustrating. I think on the whole we only had one small contact for Frank but other than that we had clean cars from a contact point of view and very driveable cars.”

Roger Wills (NZ), Age 43. Born: New Zealand. Lives: New Zealand:

“The first 23 hours were great fun but the last hour was very frustrating with this electrical gremlin which kept cutting the power in the car and we just couldn't run at race pace. So we ended up spending a lot of time in the pits for the last hour and just going out and taking the flag at a reduced pace. The rest of it was fantastic and great fun. The car was brilliant but probably with too many issues. At one point I think we got up to about ninth but after that the race kept going away from us and once that happens it's hard to keep making time back. It was still a great weekend and just a shame it didn't run a bit better and get us the result.”

Frank Yu (Hong Kong), Age: 42. Born: Hong Kong. Lives: Hong Kong:

“Finishing the race is important but we had problems basically in all of our pit stops and that wasn't nice but we finished the race and we all had a great time and probably we’ll come back again next year. I had a small accident around five o'clock in the morning. A lot of the drivers are very tired then so they lose concentration. I was going into the hairpin side by side with another car and it turned in on me and my hood went up and I drove it back to the pits to be repaired. The car was phenomenal, the setup was perfect, it was comfortable to drive and I think the Audi has the best lights at night.”

#36 Audi R8 LMS

Ryan Dalziel (GB), Age 29. Born: Glasgow, Scotland UK. Lives: Orlando, FL, USA:

“It's a disappointing result but not through hard work from the guys at United Autosports. We had a really tough 24 hours and, I think, mentally and physically for Enzo, myself and Alex it was really tough. I don't think I've ever done a 24 hour race where we've only had four hours to recover. That was a little bit unique for us, so it was difficult. We just kept fixing the car until we finished in the top 20. We are going to Abu Dhabi next week and hopefully we'll get a better result”

Enzo Potolicchio (VE), Age 43. Lives: Caracas, Venezuela:

"We enjoyed the race; we obviously wanted a better result but we had some issues with electrical problems which were a surprise for such a reliable car. Then we had brake issues but I still think we could have finished seventh or even sixth, but in the end the gearbox gave up and that lost us over an hour and a half and the best we could do was 19th. Still it was good training for just three drivers in a 24 hour race and it was challenging. We're happy that we’ll have a good car for the next race in Abu Dhabi, and we know what it needs to make it  reliable again for the 12 hour race."

Alex Popow (VE), Age 36. Lives: Lecheria, Venezuela:

“We were aiming for a top five and we knew we could do it. We had a car with three drivers all doing very similar times. Sadly, there was a problem with the starter and after that at almost every pit stop the car wouldn't start for maybe 10 or 20 minutes and only when it wanted to start. However, we had a good race, the times were very good and the team did a great job. We also had a gearbox issue and they changed the gearbox in a very good time. Racing in Abu Dhabi next week will be a lot different; here you couldn't run faster lap times and our engineer at times told us to slow down and that’s strange and new for us. But it was a good experience here in Dubai and let's hope the team solves all the problems and we have a good race in Abu Dhabi."

Zak Brown, Co-Owner and CEO of United Autosports:

The result was definitely not what we hoped for but the drivers did a great job when we weren't having issues. The cars were fast; the drivers were fast. You always feel bad for the drivers and team when everybody puts in so much effort to get a result but of course it's always better to have two cars that finish than not, so we did better than some others. However, certainly our expectations were to try and win. We had some electrical gremlins and they were issues that we hadn’t seen before.

“It's a great event; a little disappointing for us but that's racing. We've got Abu Dhabi next week and then we're onto Bathurst so we've got to make sure we're on top of everything, and know how we solve these issues. We want to try and win the race in Abu Dhabi.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

United Autosports Qualify At The Sharp End For Tomorrow’s Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai

• GRAND-AM stars qualify on the second row in their Audi R8 LMS début
• Solid master plan for both cars paves the way for a strong race
• Strategy plays out in qualifying


Enzo Potolicchio today set the fastest time for United Autosports’ #36 Audi R8 LMS to qualify on the second row to start tomorrow’s seventh running of the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai in 4th. Mark Patterson went quickest in the sister #26 car to secure seventh.

In the 26 degree celcius heat of the middle-eastern sun drenched circuit, qualifying was divided into a one-hour ‘all-classes’ and a 30-minute session for the faster GT3 cars.

Potolicchio was first out in #36 and held second spot until the eighth lap to set a time of 2.03.881 to top the timesheet. When handing over to Alex Popow with 30 minutes to go, #36 remained at the top until Niki Cadei went quicker in his #2 Ferrari 458 with fifteen minutes remaining on the clock.

The team opted to sit #36 out of the second qualifying session, feeling its already strong qualifying time was sufficient. It would then go on to secure fourth place at the flag.

Roger Wills headed out first of all in the #26 Audi R8 LMS before handing over to Frank Yu and subsequently Mark Patterson who would go on to set the car’s fastest lap of 2.04.497, a time equaled by young star driver Matt Bell during a remarkable performance on old tires in the following night session.


Car #26 Audi R8 LMS

Matt Bell (GB) Age: 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
“I haven’t done a great deal today [in the car]; today’s been about getting the other guys comfortable in the car and they’ve all been doing some pretty good lap times.

“We’ve also been working on our race setup. We weren’t too worried about qualifying, we’re actually pretty happy with 7th as we have a good race car for the duration of the 24 hour race.”

Mark Patterson (SA) Age 60. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, NY, USA:
“We’ve been running over two hours on a set of tires and still doing top-ten times against people with new tires so we can easily double stint them.

“We just need to keep the lap times consistent. The car feels great - we’re fired up; we’re going to win this thing – watch us!”

Roger Wills (NZ) Age 43. Born: New Zealand. Lives: New Zealand:
“I only got a lap and a half in the first session this morning so it was nice to get out in the second session, get a good run and I settled in pretty quickly. For my first time in the car and my first time out in Dubai, it all went pretty well.

“I was the first out for qualifying and had a reasonable run on fresh tires. Combining my three best sectors, I’m happy with the job I did.”

Frank Yu (HK), Age: 42. Born: Hong Kong. Lives: Hong Kong:
“Testing this morning was good, just getting back onto the pace. The second session was quicker for me  – I’m eager to get back into the car and do more laps!
“Traffic is a bit of a problem because they come in a chain – 20 cars all bunched up together so it can be really tough to get some real laps in. But I’m feeling good, the boys have done a great job, car’s setup is great – everything I expected from United Autosports.”


Car #36 Audi R8 LMS

Ryan Dalziel (GB). Age 29. Born: Glasgow, Scotland UK. Lives: Orlando, FL, USA:
“We had a good qualifying session after struggling a little bit in yesterday’s test - familiarizing ourselves with the track and the car’s very different to the Daytona Prototype we typically drive.

“Today’s been a great day though. United Autosports have made us feel really welcome and have given us a great Audi R8 for us to drive. We’re all looking forward to the race.”

Alex Popow (VE). Age 36. Lives: Lecheria, Venezuela:
“This race is going to be all about strategy – we are going to really go for it and try to win it for sure. I think we can have the pace but we also need to avoid any problems on the track.

“We have a good car to run consistently with the times we were doing. We have been adjusting the car to suit all three of our driving styles and right now we got it. We just need to keep it like that, enjoy it and have a good time!

Enzo Potolicchio (VE). Age 43. Lives: Caracas, Venezuela:
“We are having a lot of fun here, qualified fourth and tomorrow we have a very long race with three drivers – so we will be driving a lot, but we are really happy with the experience.
“If we avoid traffic, as that’s the main thing here, we will have a good result. We made some changes to the car from yesterday’s test and it feels really fast and comfortable to drive now.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“We had a difficult day yesterday with the #26 car having a power steering issue that took a little bit of solving but I’m delighted with the team who made a huge effort and today both cars ran faultlessly.

“We’ve been bang on the pace and been able to do whatever time we’ve needed to do to remain in the top ten – it’s very rare you can say that when there’s 75 cars out there so it’s all positive right now and very happy.”

Blundell Joins United Autosports for 2012 Blancpain Pro / Am Title Bid

·      Former McLaren Formula 1 ace and Le Mans 24 hour winner Mark Blundell spearheads team’s Pro/Am entry

·      Experienced duo, Zak Brown and Mark Patterson, form strong United Autosports Pro/Am line-up with Blundell

·      McLaren MP4-12C GT3 supercar for the team’s third season in GT racing

Mark Blundell joins United Autosports for a full season's racing in 2012 

Former Formula 1 driver and Indy car race winner, Mark Blundell (UK) joins the Anglo-American United Autosports team to spearhead the Pro/Am crew in the six-round 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series in his first full-time racing commitment since finishing his Indy car career.
Together with experienced racers, Zak Brown (USA) and Mark Patterson (USA), Blundell will pilot the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 for a full-time attack in the #23 car in the prestigious series.
Blundell has raced with the team on several occasions - taking third at the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2010 and fourth in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. However 2012 will see the former Brabham-Yamaha (1991), Ligier-Renault (1993), Tyrrell-Yamaha (1994), McLaren-Mercedes (1995) Formula 1 driver contest the entire Blancpain Series.
Mark will share the McLaren cockpit with United Autosports team co-owner American Zak Brown, who has become a regular sportscar racer, and US-domiciled South African, Mark Patterson, thus producing a formidable squad in the European series.
Brown and Patterson took a fighting second place in the United Autosports LMP2 car at Petit Le Mans in 2011. Patterson has been a mainstay of the team since its inception in 2009, helping to establish the team as a major force in GT and sportscars.
Brown and Patterson established their long distance credentials for the team at the Rolex Daytona 24 Hours just 12 months ago when they finished fourth overall with Blundell and Martin Brundle also in the squad. In that prestigious race the quartet challenged for the lead throughout the 24 hours and finished the race on the lead lap with the top four cars covered by less than four seconds.
The Blancpain Endurance Series events, which will be known as Blancpain Race Weekends with a full support race programme, features races on five of Europe’s most prestigious circuits, with a sixth round in October to be announced. The SRO Motorsports Group- organized championship includes races on some of the most classic European tracks with the highlights being the Total 24 Hours of Spa at the end of July, and 3-hour races at Monza, Silverstone, Paul Ricard and new addition to the calendar, the Nürburgring in September. 

The 2012 season kicks off in April, as it did last year, with a 3-hour race at the home of the Italian Grand Prix, Monza. Round 2 takes place at Silverstone for another 3-hour race on the grand prix circuit with the series moving to Paul Ricard in the South of France at the start of July. 

Anglo-American team United Autosports, which is co-owned by American Zak Brown and Briton, Richard Dean, enters its third season of GT racing in 2012, which will take the team around the world as it aims to win its first major title in sportscar racing.
Mark Blundell, Zak Brown and Mark Patterson will pilot the #23 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series

2012 Blancpain Endurance Series Calendar

Round 1: April 14 – 15, Monza, Italy 
Round 2: June 2 – 3, Silverstone, UK 
Round 3: June 29 – July 1, Paul Ricard, France 
Round 4: July 25 – 29, Total 24 Hours of Spa, Belgium 
Round 5: September 22 – 23, Nürburgring, Germany 
Round 6: October, TBC 

Mark Blundell (GB), Age 45. Born: Barnet,UK. Lives: Royston, UK:

“I'm excited and very happy to be racing with United Autosports. It will be my first full season in a championship since 2000 and to be with this team makes that extra special because of the people involved.  I think my experience will help with the development of the car and team, and I showed both my pace and calmness in endurance events in Daytona last year. The McLaren MP4-12C is a great looking car and with the resources and support from one of the best F1 teams in history, I feel we have great things ahead of us. My favourite circuit still has to be Spa with Monza close behind; both wonderful driver tracks.

“I have huge respect for both Mark Patterson, who’s a proven driver in his own right and Zak Brown, who applies himself with focus and commitment. But we are a team and that's what I like about sportscar racing. I can tell you we will be no less hungry to win on our side of the garage than our team mates or anyone else in the pit lane, and the desire, the competitive edge and the people involved with United Autosports are the ingredients which have brought me back into a full championship. Within a short space of time United Autosports has made a name in racing and I sincerely hope we can take that to another level over this season. Richard Dean and Zak Brown’s vision is to be applauded.”

Zak Brown (USA), Age 40. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:

“We've competed in the Spa 24 Hour race – a round of the Blancpain Endurance Series - so we know we are entering the most competitive GT series in the world and are very excited about it! The new McLaren looks fantastic and I just took delivery of the road car, which is mega; knowing that is the foundation of the racecar is very exciting. Spa has to be my favorite circuit as it is for so many drivers; the different types of challenging and fast corners, combined with the elevation and usual tricky weather, makes it one of the best tracks in the world.

“I'm really looking forward to driving with the "Marks", and of course I've been team mates with both of them now for a handful of races and we've had success together. Patterson is a great driver and as fast and reliable as anyone on the grid, while it’s a great privilege and vote of confidence to both our team and me as a driver that Blundell would come out of retirement to race with us full time. I'm sure Mark wouldn't be racing with us if he didn't think he would be in a position to win races. We have all the equipment and drivers needed to win races and that's our goal for 2012.”

Mark Patterson (SA), Age 60. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, NY, USA:

“Racing is all about skill, reliable equipment and comfort with the team. Going into our third year is an exciting prospect with team members and owners I respect and admire. There's a top flight sense of dedication and an eye for detail that United Autosports exudes, which is very reassuring for a driver. Sprint races are intense, but I love almost any type of endurance racing. Three hours is about the shortest endurance race there is, but it increases that element of inter-dependency among drivers and racecar over a greater span of time, and that added pressure elevates the weekend's experience. That element, plus the world class selection of tracks; hard to beat.

“Although I have not met the United Autosports McLaren MP4-12C, we have ambitious hopes for our performance and results this year. SRO runs a first rate operation and the blend of pure pro teams and pro-am teams in the same race, deploying a full grid of wonderful cars, should make for unbelievable racing. Of our three-man line-up, we've all had experience on all tracks, though I have yet to run on the mighty German lanes. Spa is hard to beat, cradled in the undulating hills of dense Belgian forests with their predictably unpredictable weather conditions!”

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

“United Autosports really means business this year and we aim to be the team that everyone’s talking about, not just because we have an exciting and first-class line-up of drivers, but also as we have moved up a gear in every respect. Every member of the team has a unified goal and in 2012, that is to win a major title. We’ve spent the previous two years setting up the team and moving towards that goal; this year we want to achieve it.

“We are thrilled that we have a new partner in McLaren for the Blancpain Endurance Series and the team intends to work hand in glove with this historic team to produce outstanding performances in the series. The championship visits some of the most historic race tracks in Europe with Spa and Monza, and none more so than our ‘home’ circuit at Silverstone. The two “Marks” and Zak have raced together before and I have no doubt they will prove a major force to be reckoned with.”