Former Touring Car driver John Bintcliffe is to return to regular racing and to the driving seat of an Audi, a United Autosports confirmed him among its four drivers for their planned British GT campaign next year,
The team, which contested the opening weekend for the British series with the Audi R8 LMS cars, had already confirmed drivers Matthew Bell and Mike Gausch to drive one car for 2011.
Bintcliffe raced with great success in one-make saloon series in the early and mid-90s before stepping up to Audi's works BTCC team alongside would-be champion Frank Biela. His tenure in touring cars saw him race through some of the best years of the supertouring regulations and against the best drivers of the time including Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini (as well as new BTCC champion Jason Plato).
“I'm delighted to be racing full time again and especially that it's in an Audi,” said Bintcliffe, 44. “Contesting the British GT Championship with United Autosports as Richard [Dean] has been a friend for years and to co-drive with Jay, another long-term friend who I ran in my Westfield and Caterham teams, is the icing on the cake. I've never raced in the British GT category but know it's a very professionally run and competitive series. Having driven the four-wheel-drive Audi quattro and front-wheel-drive Audi A4 in the British Touring Car Championship in the 1990s, it'll be interesting to add the rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 LMS to my portfolio and I guess will be a somewhat unique achievement.”
38-year-old Jay Palmer was confirmed as Bintcliffe's driving partner for the team. Palmer, another Yorkshireman in the Leeds based team, steps up to the GT3 Audi after experience in smaller sportscars – Westfields and Caterhams.
“Competing in the British GT Championship will be a steep learning curve for me but after a pre-season test program, I'm sure I'll be there or thereabouts – especially having John as my co-driver and the competitive package of United Autosports and the Audi R8 LMS behind me,” he said. “I have only previously raced Westfield or Caterham cars but tested GT3 machinery [Ascari and Porsche]. My business commitments will now allow me to race regularly for the first time since 2005 and I'm very excited about the prospect.”
United Autosports – co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean – have concentrated their 2010 efforts on the FIA GT3 European Championship. With Bell and Gausch among the regular drivers the team finished eleventh in the team's championship. Gausch and Mark Patterson tied for seconds place in the Audi Manufacturer's Cup, Bell and Zak Bown down in seventh.
“I’m extremely pleased that United Autosports will be racing regularly in Britain next season – in many respects it remains the 'home' of world motorsport,” said Brown. “I'm certain the Audi R8 LMS sports car will be ultra-competitive in the BGT and will prove to be immensely popular with British race fans. In Matt Bell and Mike Guasch, a pairing we announced earlier this month, and now John and Jay, we have two driver pairings who I'm sure will be title BGT contenders despite the series being very competitive.”