The Anglo-American United Autosports squad came away with four finishes from their debut weekend in the FIA GT3 European Championship. However, their two Audi R8 LMS machines failed to bring home any early points.
“We will take a lot of positives away from the weekend,” says team co-owner Richard Dean. “The drivers learnt a tremendous amount in varying and difficult conditions and are becoming a lot more consistent in the car.”
The first race of the weekend the no.22 and no.23 cars start from 25th and 20th respectively after a damp qualifying session that saw Zak Brown in the no.23 car momentarily hold provisional pole. In the race both cars gained positions early in the race, Brown taking the Remington backed car as high as 15th and then eighth in the shuffle during pitstops, before making their own mandatory , timed stop, handing the car over to young Briton Matthew Bell. Bell and Brown finished the race 16th, the sister car of Mark Patterson and Michael Gautsch in 20th.
The team started the second race from similar positions to the first in 21st and 28th and once more were on the pace, Bell – in only his fourth car race on slick tyres – setting times among the top tean fastest in the fifteen minutes before he span the car on the track, still drying after heavy rain on Sunday morning.
“Track conditions for Race Two were difficult with the damp/wet/dry patches,” he says. “Once past a Lamborghini, I was setting good times, comparable with the leaders. Four laps before my pit-stop the grip dropped off as the track conditions changed catching me out and I spun which I'm personally disappointed about.”
The team were also among the many teams (in every series) to be caught out by the pit entry line, Zak Brown having to serve tow separate penalties – the first after Bell cut across the line as he came into to end his stint, the second after Brown repeated the mistake as he served the original penalty. Mark Patterson also suffered a drive through penalty at the beginning of his stint.
Despite this trio of penalties Patterson and Brown were able to improve their position well though the final part of the hour long race, battling back to an impressive 14th and 15th place finish.
“We've achieved top-15 places with both cars today [Sunday] and we'll be shooting for higher next time out,” said Brown, the other co-owner of the team.” The first FIA GT3 race meet was always going to be tough as we become more settled but I'm real happy the way the team is gelling.”
“As a team we must, and will, improve on various elements including driver change pit-stops,” concludes Dean. “Had we qualified nearer the front, we'd have been pushing for top-10 finishes in both races.”
“I think we were closer in hitting a good set-up for Race Two which allowed us to reduce the time difference to the more experienced Audi teams. So all in all, considering the drivers' lack of experience of driving a GT3 car, an Audi R8 LMS, and Silverstone, I have to be satisfied.”
Photo credit: United Autosports